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Practical Training to Meet a Growing Need

The U.S. Census Bureau recently forecasted that the number of Americans over age 65 will double in the next 30 years. This fact underscores the growing need for qualified, capable professionals to promote healthy aging. UNC’s multidisciplinary Gerontology master’s program will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to assume a leadership role in this growing field.

Designed to meet the needs of working professionals, the Gerontology master’s program will help you address the challenges senior adults face, including health, family relationships, social issues, government programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid) and access to community resources. You’ll also learn to write grants, evaluate services, advocate on behalf of older adults and apply intervention strategies. By the time you graduate, you will be ready to take on important responsibilities in the profession.

Degree Details

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Degree Options

M.A. in Gerontology

UNC's 33-credit-hour Gerontology program includes 12 credit hours of online coursework. You’ll complete your remaining courses on UNC’s campus, taking classes once a week during the late afternoon or evening. The program explores issues ranging from social policies and family relationships to community resources, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, age discrimination and more.

This program is no longer accepting applications.

Online Gerontology Graduate Certificate Program

If you hold a graduate degree in another field or are pursuing one and wish to add a Gerontology certificate to your qualifications, the 12-credit-hour Gerontology Graduate Certificate program may fit your needs. The certificate program is also ideal for those who hold a bachelor’s degree and have some experience working in human services or a related field. The certificate program is offered through the UNC extended campus. Because gerontology does not have a profession-specific certification or licensure, you won’t be required to take a comprehensive exam. Online courses cover such topics as health and psychological aspects of aging, community resources and social policy. You can take two classes per semester and complete the Graduate Certificate program in one academic year.

Take the next step! Explore courses, contact information and admission requirements.

Extended Campus Program


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“The online classes are very convenient and encourage exploration of local resources. Faculty members offer a great experience and knowledge base. They are academically supportive and encourage critical thinking. My graduate practicum was hugely beneficial. Not only did it result in full-time employment, but it also provided experiential knowledge that can only be gained when working in the field.”

Carol Cross, MA Gerontology alumna, Compliance Coordinator and Data Analyst for Boulder County Area Agency on Aging

Your Future in Gerontology

Americans are living longer than ever before, leading to an ever-growing need for gerontologists and other professionals. By earning a master’s degree or certificate in gerontology, you’ll prepare for a career with limitless potential in the years ahead.

Consider UNC’s M.A. in Gerontology if you want to:

  • Work with older adults
  • Advance to a leadership role
  • Get interdisciplinary training that draws upon health, psychology, social work and other disciplines
  • Help meet a pressing societal need

You’ll learn:

  • Psychological and social aspects of aging
  • How to plan and evaluate the community resources used by older adults
  • Health concerns and social policies of the aging process
  • How to manage and administer services for senior adults
  • How to evaluate and apply current research in the field

Sample courses:

  • Grant Development and Administration
  • Community Resources for Older Adults
  • Psychosocial Aspects of Aging
  • Health Aspects of Gerontology
  • Program Planning and Evaluation in Gerontology


Nancy Mendoza

“My career goal was to complete my master’s in Gerontology and then go on to earn a Ph.D. so that I can teach gerontology. I did a thesis rather than a practicum, which gave me new skills and helped me get accepted into my Ph.D. program. I am now in my second year of an Applied Developmental Sciences doctoral program.”

Nancy Mendoza, MA Gerontology alumna, Applied Developmental Sciences doctoral student

Beyond the Classroom

Because many of our students are already working in the field, UNC does not require an internship, practicum or thesis in the Gerontology M.A. program. However, interested students can complete elective internships in assisted living centers, nursing homes, hospice, area agencies or aging and senior centers. With academic supervisor approval, students planning to pursue doctoral study may elect to complete a thesis.

Where can your degree take you?

  • Health care and social service careers
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Senior centers
  • Recreation programs
  • Care management agencies
  • Community college teaching positions
  • Private consulting

Faculty Spotlights

One of the special strengths of UNC’s Gerontology program is our faculty’s commitment to engage students in the research and discovery process. You'll have opportunities to work side-by-side with faculty mentors who are breaking ground in this increasingly important field of scientific exploration.

Joyce Weil

Joyce Weil, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Research is an important part of the educational experience for Gerontology master’s students, and students and faculty work collaboratively. Dr. Joyce Weil is assistant professor of Gerontology at UNC, and she regularly engages her students in her groundbreaking research into such topics as the role of senior centers, aging in place, social support and wellbeing and rural aging.

She is the author of The New Neighborhood Senior Center: Redefining Social and Service Roles for the Baby Boom Generation and co-editor of Race and the Lifecourse: Readings from the Intersection of Race, Ethnicity, and Age. Her articles appear in the Journal of Aging, Humanities, and the Arts, The Journal of Loss and Trauma, Social Forces, The International Journal of Aging in Society and Research on Aging.

Dr. Weil has worked in applied health research settings (holding an Assistant Project Manager position in a Department of Health Policy at a major medical center) and as a consultant for the statistical and international organizations (the American Statistical Association and the United Nations, respectively). Weil is an active member of the Gerontological Society of America, American Sociological Association, the International Sociological Association and the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education and present at these organizations’ national meetings.

Dr. Weil earned a B.S. in Health Science, Community Health Education from Hunter College, City University of New York; an M.P.H. in Public Health, Population and Family Health from Columbia University; a Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration in Demography from Fordham University; and a Certificate in Gerontology from the Institute on Aging, School of Medicine, Temple University.

Susan Collins

Susan Collins, Ph.D.

Dr. Collins is an assistant professor of Gerontology at the University of Northern Colorado. She teaches graduate courses in Gerontology and undergraduate courses in Human Services. She also supervises the graduate gerontology practicum and internship and serves as the UNC Gerontology Program coordinator. Collins is an active member of the Advisory Board of the Weld County Area Agency on Aging, the Advisory Council of Weld County RSVP and the Weld County Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Task Force. She is a recipient of the Epsilon Sigma Phi Distinguished Team award for her collaboration with members of the Weld, Larimer, Boulder and Morgan County offices of Extension in planning and implementing the Rocky Mountain Conference on Aging.  Her research interests include: grandparents raising grandchildren, individual development within a lifespan context; attachment relationships in later life; volunteering in later life; and quality of life related to social policy and aging network services. Dr. Collins often involves her students in her research projects to enhance their classroom experience.

Dr. Collins earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles (Magna Cum Laude), her M.A. in Gerontology at UNC, and her Ph.D. at Iowa State University in Human Development and Family Studies, Lifespan Specialization.

The Rural Aging Experience

Joyce Weil, Ph.D. (Gerontology)

As a social gerontologist, Dr. Weil is passionate about studying how the experience of aging is impacted by the society and time in which one lives. Recently, with the help of her students, she undertook a study of older adults who were raised in rural settings and now live in town. The goal was to understand the role that place holds in the experience of aging. In addition to Dr. Weil, students interviewed many of the older adults including those living in the community and in care facilities. Interestingly, older persons now living in metropolitan areas still continued to identify themselves as being rural, even though they may have been living in town for several years. Weil will present some of her findings in an upcoming keynote address entitled “Aging in Place in Many Places: New Directions in Navigating Home.”

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