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M.A. in Gerontology


The Master of Arts in Gerontology was developed from the perspective that human beings require meaning and purpose in order to experience life with a sense of well-being as they grow older. The human experience of meaning is experienced in a multiplicity of ways. In each of the six core courses within this curriculum, we explore how meaning is promoted or impeded through the lens of our individual selves and our societal selves. Meaning is socially constructed and reflected in psychological theories and social policies. Our students will develop their critical thinking skills to observe ageist practices and beliefs in our current culturally diverse climate. In addition to this competency, students will acquire leadership skills through experiential activities that will be embedded in each of the core courses. Leadership skills will be based on critical analyses of the policies and programs that affect older adults and the institutions that serve them, as well as analyses of societal structures that create connections for older adults to serve others. Students will then be able to identify and formulate effective means of creating change in these areas. Projects in each of the core courses, immersion in the student's chosen specialty track, culminating in the Capstone Project will provide students with opportunities to apply and test their new knowledge in real world settings.

Our program is designed to prepare future leaders in the field of aging. Gerontology is the study of growing older. Our emphasis is on growing knowledge and skills, while challenging attitudes about aging that limit the potential of older lives in the 21 st century. Traditional Fields are expanding related to the Health Care, Human Services, and Social Services Field.

  • Nursing homes
  • Long term care facilities
  • Continuing care communities
  • Home health care
  • Human service agencies
  • Retirement communities
  • Senior centers
  • Lifelong learning programs
  • Community-based health care
  • Social service agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Mental health and family agencies
  • Pastoral care
  • Public Health

Emerging fields are expanding related to the growing numbers of older adults, beginning with the baby boomers, who are active, healthy, and living longer lives:

  • Health and Wellness
  • Travel and Leisure
  • Culture and the Arts
  • Education
  • Volunteer management
  • Senior housing communities
  • Fitness
  • Community engagement/activism
  • Social entrepreneurship
  • Intergenerational programming
  • Retirement planning (non-financial)
  • Care giving and care receiving
This master's program comprises 33 credits: 18 credits (6 courses) of core curriculum, 9 credits (3 courses) in a concentration, a capstone seminar, and a capstone project.

Core Curriculum (18 credits)

GERO 5200 - Concepts and Controversies in Aging (3 credits)

This course will provide a focus on the major concepts and controversies currently being debated in the field of gerontology. Students will explore concepts of aging, health care, and society; some of the social and economic outlooks for our aging society; and the life course perspective. Topics will include health care rationing, elder abuse and neglect, the right to die, changing notions of retirement, creativity and aging, old age and the quest for meaning.

GERO 5300 - Humanities and Aging (3 credits)

The study of the humanities reflects a fundamental question, what does it mean to be human? Studying the humanities provides the student of gerontology with a framework in which to think and learn about aspects of being and becoming an older human that are less accessible through a biological, psychological, or social lens. The humanistic approach in the study of aging includes a variety of subjects, for example: life review, identity (especially as it pertains to people with Alzheimer's Disease and other cognitive limitations), and spirituality, to name a few.

GERO 5400 - Sociology of Aging for Future Leaders (3 credits)

This course will provide a sociological perspective on the aging process and tools to effect change. Students will examine the impact of social policies, and the social and cultural conditions that shape the life course of older adults as individuals and as groups. As future leaders in the field, this class will seek to provide the student with an ability to critically analyze the policies and institutions that provide care and services to older adults, i.e. long term care facilities, hospitals, senior centers, etc., and the tools, i.e. needs assessment; evidence-based policy development; use of media, advocacy, and coalition-building strategies, and an introduction to program evaluation, in order to offer meaningful change to improve the quality of older lives.

GERO 5500 - Psychology of Aging (3 credits)

This course will focus on the human development theories that provide the underpinning for a humanistic approach to aging. The humanistic approach is closely associated with the term 'conscious aging', which implies that in addition to the nature of aging as a biological and sociological phenomenon, there is a developmental path that includes the psychological and the transpersonal or spiritual. Students will engage in exploring this holistic perspective that includes applying the theoretical frameworks associated with Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Ken Wilber, and others, as well as life-span theory to the process of aging.

GERO 5600 - Biology of Human Aging (3 credits)

While aging is a fact present in all human lives, there are common misconceptions as to what aging is, how we age, and why we age. There are also controversial and ethical issues associated with scientific explorations into extending our life spans. We will therefore be examining the impact of the science of aging on human life; the use of medical technology and its impact on mitigating aging. We will learn about the many theories of aging; examine healthy aging, and the diseases that most commonly affect us as we grow older. We will also look at the effects of aging on several body systems, and the effect of environment on aging within the context of how purpose and meaning are formed and challenged as human beings grow older.

GERO 5700 - Aging and Diversity (3 credits)

While all human beings age, human beings age differently. Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in health has been identified as a national goal. Using the lens of health care is a primary way in which to understand the impact of culture on aging in the United States. Cultural beliefs and values impact how older adults learn and have access to and/or process information. The quality of service may be greatly influenced by understanding or misunderstanding the ethnic beliefs and values of older adults. This course will teach students how aging and ethnicity affect how we serve older adults. The course will also help students become better acquainted with their own cultural beliefs and values, as they learn about the cultural beliefs and values of a wide variety of ethnicities.

Concentrations (9 credits)

Students choose one concentration from below:


GERO 5101 - Foundations of Public Health (3 credits)

An introduction to the history, concepts, values, principles and practice of public health. This course provides an overview of the essential areas of public health including biostatistics, epidemiology, social and behavioral sciences, environmental and occupational health, and health policy, planning and management.

GERO 5111 - Public Health Issues of the Elderly (3 credits)

This course examines important determinants of morbidity and mortality among the aged population. Emphasizes socio-cultural, economic, behavioral and physical characteristics of importance in the design and development of appropriate prevention efforts directed at the elderly.

GERO 6201 - Health Service Planning and Evaluation (3 credits)

An in-depth study of basic planning and evaluation techniques for the implementation of a community health care program. It addresses policy analysis techniques as well as the conceptual framework for the planning and management of health care programs. The course also reviews essential methods for effective planning and evaluation considering the economic, political, epidemiological, demographic, and other components that contribute to the assessment of health needs and resource allocation. Develop a plan for implementing a health education program, monitor its delivery, as well as evaluate its impact.

GERO 6110 - Systems Application in the Family Life Cycle of Aging (3 credits)

This course provides a focus on the major concepts of systems thinking as applied to the family life cycle of aging and foundational concepts of systemic theories associated with the work of Gregory Bateson, Humberto Maturana, and Heinz von Forester. An exploration of interactional theories informed by cybernetics, language, and natural systems metaphors in the framework of the aging process is included. This course will provide not only an opportunity to learn about systemic theories, but also a venue to reflect on applications of such theoretical concepts while examining the process of aging and family interactions involving older adults and their families.

GERO 6120 - Relationships in Aging (3 credits)

Multi-dimensional in nature, aging invites diverse health care professionals to work together to examine its various aspects. This course offers students an opportunity to reflect on diverse relationships among older adults themselves, senior health care consumers and their health care providers, and various health care professionals who are taking care of the aging population. The role modification in the American household, romantic relationships in later life and the societal outlook on the process of aging are a few of the topics addressed in this course. Students examine current needs and requirements of the working environment with older adults, including the subject of integrative primary care and the necessity of a multidisciplinary teamwork.

GERO 6130 - Caregiving in the Family (3 credits)

Caregiving constitutes a challenging experience for the whole family. This course examines diverse characteristics of the caregivers, emotional and physical issues associated with caregiving, and existing resources implemented to support families and caretakers. Students have an opportunity to examine the notions of well-being and quality of life as applied to those providing and receiving care. While reflecting on the care giving process, students utilize concepts from such theoretical frameworks as constructivism, social constructionism, and general systems theory to investigate diverse perceptions and ideas about caregiving. Providing theoretical guidelines, this course gives students a framework to acquire attuned therapeutic skills to provide assistance to caregivers and their families.

GERO 5050 - All Hazards Preparedness (3 credits)

This course will define the interdisciplinary roles and responsibilities of professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers (including elders) in all-hazards emergency planning, response, mitigation and recovery.

GERO 6130 - Incident Command System (3 credits)

This elective course will provide students with the knowledge to operate within an Incident Command System. As part of the course, students will complete ICS 100 a., 700a. and 200. Students will participate in tabletop exercises related to disasters and the elder population.

GERO 6140 - All Hazards Preparedness for Special Needs Populations (3 credits)

This course will identify the at-risk and vulnerable populations and discuss how each of these groups is affected in times of disaster.? In addition, the course will address the special needs and emergency response efforts that must be considered for each of these groups.

GERO 6160 - Special Topics in All-Hazards Preparedness for Elders (3 credits)

This course will be guided by a faculty member and it will enable the student to select a special area of focus in all hazards preparedness for elders. The student will develop and complete a special project upon approval by the faculty member.

Professional Geriatric Care Management Handbook (PDF)

Allows students the opportunity to pursue certification* as a Geriatric Care Manager.

* Upon completion of this concentration students may be qualified to pursue several specialty certifications including those offered by the National Academy of Certified Care Managers and the International Commission on Health Care Certification.

GERO 5350 - Professional Geriatric Care Management (3 credits)

This course provides an overview of the history of professional geriatric care management, ethical issues in geriatric care management, ethnic and cultural considerations, spiritual beliefs and the role of the GCM in working with the family unit. Specific topics will include: conflicts between the client’s needs, wants and autonomy; how to resolve ethical dilemmas, ethnicity, aging and health; care management credentialing; assessing clients values and sources of meaning, and understanding aging within the family system.

GERO 5550 - Care Plan Development and Health Care Advocacy (3 credits)

This course will cover the geriatric assessment, the care planning process, and the development of a comprehensive holistic quality of life care plan.  Specific topics include: cognitive and psychosocial assessment, dementia, depression, functional assessment, activities of daily living, developing care plan goals, writing an assessment, implementing appropriate care plan interventions and creating a system for care plan monitoring and ongoing client advocacy.

GERO 6250 - Business Aspects of Geriatric Care Management (3 credits)

This course presents strategies and methods for developing a public nonprofit or private practice geriatric care management agency and/or business.  Students will have the opportunity to explore topics such as the different types of geriatric care management businesses, insurance, setting up an office, brand development, developing fee for service arrangements, marketing geriatric care management services, private revenue sources for the fee-based care manager, and preparing an agency or business for emergencies.  The course will also cover strategies for integrating a geriatric care management business into another practice, business or agency.

Capstone Seminar and Project

GERO 6200 - Capstone Seminar (3 credits)

The capstone seminar is designed to be taken upon completion of the core curriculum, and two out of the three courses in the student's chosen concentration. The purpose of the seminar is to provide students with an opportunity to explore research modalities pertinent to gerontology and to develop their capstone project design. Students will become acquainted with the concept of the capstone project during Year One, while taking the core curriculum. Each of the core courses will include aspects of research pertinent to gerontology with emphasis on action research and qualitative modalities. Students will be encouraged to begin using their knowledge and critical thinking skills to explore possibilities for the eventual development of their capstone projects.

GERO 6300 - Capstone Project (3 credits)

The capstone project follows completion of the capstone seminar. The Master's will be granted upon satisfactory completion of all requirements plus satisfactory completion and presentation of this project to faculty and students in the program.

Application Requirements

To ensure that your application is complete, please use the checklist below and follow the detailed instructions provided for each item. All documents that are submitted to the University will need to include your name on each page.

  1. Complete online application form.
  2. Application fee of $50 (in U.S. dollars) made payable to Nova Southeastern University will be charged for each application submitted.
  3. A grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher in last 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework or a master's degree with an overall GPA of 3.0 or better.
  4. Submit two letters of recommendation from current professors, employers, supervisors, or similar people most familiar with your professional experience. Letters of recommendation must be less than one year old.
  5. Official transcripts from all colleges or universities you attended are required. All applicants must hold a baccalaureate from a regionally accredited institution. Official electronic transcripts can be sent to or mailed to the address above.

    Applicants who have attended foreign universities or colleges are required to have their academic credentials evaluated for U.S. institutional equivalence. Please visit the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for more information. International students are encouraged to contact the Office of International Student Services at (954) 262-7240 or 800-541-6682, ext. 27240, or by email at, or visit the Office of International Students and Scholars.


  6. Provide a personal statement of between 150 and 300 words indicating your goals in pursuing a Master of Human Services in Child Protection degree. This statement must be attached to the application.

Careers in Gerontology

There are many careers within industries that specifically serve older adults or industries where older adults are a portion of a targeted population, I.e. Travel and leisure and hospitality, where growing number of baby boomers are beginning to get attention. Conventional career opportunities occur within all aspects of the health care industry, from hospitals, to long term care institutions aka nursing homes, and hospice. There are many opportunities in senior housing, which includes assisted living housing, as well as retirement communities for the "active adult". Lifelong learning and adult education, higher education, as well as senior centers or community centers, are other areas in which someone with expertise in gerontology would be an asset. In addition, the human services industry also serves older adults, their families, older adults with disabilities, etc.

Job titles could be: Director, associate or assistant director, manager, project manager, program manager, program coordinator, activity director, sales manager, coordinator, volunteer coordinator, etc. The Master's degree would allow someone to step into a leadership role in any industry in which older adults (55+) are customers or consumers.

Program Format: Online

The master's program is offered entirely online. The online format allows for students to participate in courses from anywhere in the world where Internet access is available. In addition, it allows for the flexibility of completing your master's degree without interrupting your career.

Master's students are provided NSU computer accounts including email and Blackboard, but must obtain their own Internet service providers, use their own computer systems and have a usable web camera. Online students use the web to access course materials, announcements, email, distance library services, subscription library databases, and other information, and for interaction with faculty and fellow students. Online, interactive learning methods are based on the use of Blackboard as a course management system. Online activities facilitate frequent student-to-faculty and student-to-student interaction. They are supported by threaded discussion boards, white boards, chat rooms, email, and multimedia presentations. In addition, Blackboard enables students to submit assignments online in multimedia formats and to receive their professors' reviews of assignments online in the same formats.


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