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Introduction 

              

                          2014-2018 Association for Gerontology in Higher Education's

Program of Merit Awardee


The Master of Arts in Gerontology is a multi-disciplinary program designed to provide both breadth and depth in the study of aging. By design, the program is part-time with courses offered in the evening or on Saturday. Most students find that taking one class per term and extending their program over four or five years allows them to best balance work, family and studies. It is, however, possible for a student to complete the program in three to four years by enrolling in two courses per semester after completing PSYC 401,and by completing their internship and thesis while continuing to take classes.

Students in the program have ranged in age from 22 to 75, with the majority being between 36 and 55. Many have been away from formal study for more than 20 years while others are recent graduates. Students have stated that they believe the wide age range of their classmates has had a very positive impact on their learning experience. See the following YouTube video:

 

 

Some students plan to continue their academic career after they have completed the M.A. in Gerontology either by completing a second master’s degree in a complementary field or b entering a doctoral program in Gerontology . Others seek to use what they learn in this program to increase their efficacy in either their present field or in a second career. Still others are retirees who desire to become volunteer or paid peer service providers and advocates for the elderly. Some are individuals with no immediate vocational goal that see themselves as life-long learners and are interested in pursuing the study of aging.

Components of the Program

The 36 credit program consists of three parts which, taken together, prepare students to assume positions of responsibility in direct service, administration, social policy, or research: A. The classroom component consists of seven required courses (21 credits) and from two to four electives. It provides students with a both a broad coverage of the essential aspects of gerontology and the opportunity to pursue an area of specialization. B. The experiential component consists of a 120 clock hour internship required of all students. An additional 120 clock hour practicum is required of students who enter the program with no previous experience in gerontology. This part of the program gives students the opportunity to gain working knowledge of an area of gerontology with which they may not have had experience. C. The thesis component is done by the student under the guidance of a faculty member. In this component, the last step in the program, students use and integrate all they have learned to create an original document, usually one with immediate usefulness in the field.

The Gerontology Students

One group of students in the Gerontology Program are those currently employed as direct service providers, or as administrators in agencies or organizations providing services or advocacy for older adults. They come from such fields as health care and social. A second group is those professionals whose work is not specifically connected to serving the elderly but who are finding that their target population is changing. They include not only health and social service providers but also architects, administrators, librarians, teachers, and writers. Yet a third group are those who have had little or no previous work with the elderly outside their own families. They come with bachelors, masters, or even doctoral, degrees in diverse disciplines and fields and a desire to add a gerontological dimension to their learning.

Class Location and Times

All of our classes are primarily held on the Northeastern Illinois University campus at 5500 St. Louis Avenue, Chicago, IL. 60625 but more elective classes will also be offered at the new El Centro after Fall 2014. Classes meet either once a week in the evening (7:05 to 9:45 PM.) or on Saturday morning and are held in the Science Building on the Main Campus.

Admission to the Program 

We welcome professionals in the field and others who have a bachelor's degree. Individuals interested in applying to the M.A. in Gerontology Program need to call the Graduate College and ask for an Application Packet. Final dates for completed applications are in June for Fall admission and October for Spring admission.

Degree Requirements 

For the Master's degree, the degree requires completion of 36 credit hours across three parts which, taken together, prepare students to assume positions of responsibility in direct service, administration, social policy, or research:

The classroom component consists of seven required courses (21 credits) and from two to four electives. It provides students with a both a broad coverage of the essential aspects of gerontology and the opportunity to pursue an area of specialization.

The experiential component consists of a 120 clock hour internship required of all students. An additional 120 clock hour practicum is required of students who enter the program with no previous experience in gerontology. This part of the program gives students the opportunity to gain working knowledge of an area of gerontology with which they may not have had experience.

The thesis component is done by the student under the guidance of a faculty member. In this component, the last step in the program, students use and integrate all they have learned to create an original document, usually one with immediate usefulness in the field.

Courses 

Program Courses

PSYC 401 - Gerontology: An Overview, 3 cr. Presents an overview of the field of gerontology. It provides an introduction to the demographic, economic and social implications of the growth in the population of older individuals. Prereq.: Graduate standing.

PSYC 402 - Developmental Processes In Later Life, 3 cr. Examines research on how individuals age psychologically throughout adulthood and into advanced old age. Prereq.: PSYC 401 or consent of instructor.

PSYC 403 - Developmental Processes In Aging: Physiological Aspects, 3 cr. In order to understand the aging individual, it is important to understand the normal and pathological physical changes that occur as the person ages. This course is intended to provide students of gerontology with this basic grounding in the physiology of aging and thus is aimed at graduate students with only minimal background in biology. Using a combination of text material and journal readings, it will cover the development changes in all the major biological systems.

PSYC 406 - Aging And The Family, 3 cr. Acquaints students with the research on the inter-generational roles on the nuclear, extended and non-traditional forms of 20th century families in providing physical, emotional, and financial support to members over the life-span in a society that has increasing numbers of three, four, and five generation families. Prereq.: PSYC 401 or consent of instructor.

PSYC 408 - Research Methods in Gerontology, 3 cr. This course introduces research methods and methodological problems encountered in theoretical an applied studies in the field of gerontology and provides guidance in preparing research or program proposals. Prereq: PSYC 402.

PSYC 412 - Psychopathology And Aging, 3 cr. Enables students to differentiate between the psychological characteristics of normal aging in later life and those associated with psychopathology. Differences between chronic mental illness and late onset psychopathology are clarified. Questions of assessment and treatment for these populations are included. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 414 - Psychotherapy Of The Elderly, 3 cr. This course assists students interested in direct service to develop an awareness of the range of psychotherapeutic modalities that are effective with elderly clients. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 415 - Practicum In Gerontology, 3 cr. A supervised practicum, 120 clock hours or more, is required of all students who lack formal experience in working directly with the elderly. It is also recommended for students who have previously worked with this population and whose career objectives make a different type of experience in another setting desirable. An approved learning contract is required prior to starting hours. Prereq: PSYC 402 and Consent of the Gerontology Field Experience Coordinator.

PSYC 416 - Internship In Gerontology, 3cr. This 120-clock hour supervised fieldwork course is required of all students. Those with no prior experience in gerontology must complete PYSC-415 before registering for this course. The internship site varies according to the interests of the student. The faculty will determine the suitability of the site. An approved learning contract is required prior to starting hours. Prereq: PSYC 402 and Consent of the Gerontology Field Experience Coordinator.

PSYC 418 - Public Policy And Aging, 3 cr. This course will examine major health care, social, and economic policies that affect the elderly. Students will learn to assess and understand the differential impact on life style and quality of life experienced in old age by individuals of various socioeconomic classes. Prereq.: PSYC 401.

PSYC 420 - Seminar In Proposal Writing, 3 cr. This seminar covers the whole process of proposal writing as it applies to either grant or thesis proposals. Student is expected to produce an acceptable proposal as part of the course. Prereq.: PSYC-408.

PSYC 422 - Master's Thesis, 3 cr. This course involves guidance of students writing a master's thesis as part of the requirements for the MA. in Gerontology. Prereq: PSYC 420.

PSYC 424 - Independent Study In Gerontology, 3 cr. This course provides an opportunity to specialize in an area of interest not sufficiently covered in either the required or elective courses offered. The plan for independent study (the specific topic, list of possible readings, and plan for a final paper) must be approved in writing by the sponsoring faculty member in the term prior to registration. Prereq: PSYC 402 and consent of the instructor.

PSYC 426 - Values, Decision Making And The Elderly, 3cr. This course sensitizes students to their own and other's social and personal values pertaining to aging and the aged. It covers the ethical issues and dilemmas that arise for the elderly, their advocates, and caretakers when age is a primary factor in making difficult decisions. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 428 - Aging And Cultural Diversity In The U.S., 3 cr. This course familiarizes students with the literature and research-in-progress on variations in the process of aging, attitudes toward aging and the aged, and assistance provided to the aged among various major ethnic groups found in the United States. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 432 - Meanings Of Old Age, 3 cr. This course explores the range of external perceptions and personal experiences of old age and old people by comparing what research scholars say about aging with the writings of older people themselves. Societal ageism and personal beliefs about aging, old age and old people are considered. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 434 - Aging Services Network, 3cr. This course examines the wide range of services and programs fostered by the Older American Act and referred to as the "aging network." Interviews with service providers and onsite observations give students an awareness of the issues involved in designing and implementing programs for older people. Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 455 - Advanced Topics In Aging, 3 cr. This course is designed to focus on a specific topic related to the field of aging (e.g., Industrial Gerontology). Prereq: PSYC 401 or consent of the instructor.

Licensing Requirements 

No licensing requirements.

Graduates of the M.A. program will receive a certificate stating they graduated from an AGHE "Program of Merit" program.
 

 

Suggested 4-Year Course Schedule 

Tentative Class Schedule (Fall 2014 – Fall 2016)

Fall 2014

PSYC 401 - Gerontology: An Overview [Night] (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

PSYC 412 - Psychopathology of the Elderly (Farmer) [Elective M. A. Course]

PSYC 420 - Seminar in Proposal Writing (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

*324 - Geropsychology [Day, Saturday] (TBD) [Required UG Minor Course]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Spring 2015

402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]

418 - Public Policy (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]

406 - Aging and the Family (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]

*328 - Seminar in Aging [Saturday] (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required UG Minor Course]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2015

*202 - Statistics for the Research Sciences (TBA) [Pre-req M.A. Course before Candidacy if needed]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Fall 2015

401 - Gerontology: An Overview (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

403 - Physiology of Aging (Saszik) [Required M.A. Course]

434 - Aging Services Network (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]

*324 - Geropsychology (TBD) [Required UG Minor Course]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Spring 2016

402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]

408 - Research Methods in Gerontology (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

426 - Values, Decision Making, and the Elderly (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]

*328 - Seminar in Aging (TBD) [Required UG Minor Course]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2016

*202 - Statistics for the Research Sciences (TBA) [Pre-req M.A. Course before Candidacy if needed]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Fall 2016

401 - Gerontology: An Overview [Night] (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

412 - Psychopathology of the Elderly (Farmer) [Elective M. A. Course]

420 - Seminar in Proposal Writing (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]

*324 - Geropsychology [Day, Saturday] (TBD) [Required UG Minor Course]

**take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Opportunities 

There are tailored practicum and internship opportunities for enrolled students.

Careers & Employment 

What Can I Do with a Major in Gerontology?

Gerontology is the physical, mental, and sociological study of aging. It includes the study of changes in adults as they age, the ways that society changes with an aging population, and the ways we apply this information to programs and policies for older adults. A degree in gerontology prepares the student for careers working with older adults or as advocates for the elderly.

Sample Job Titles (some of these may require further education):

Administrator

Advocate

Business Manager

Case Worker

Case Aid Worker

Congressional Aide

Community Educator

Community Organizer/Action Director

Corporate Gerontologist

Crisis Counselor

Director, Non-Profit Agency

Discrimination Investigator

Geriatric Care Manager

Geriatric Social Worker

Gerontologist

Geropsychologist

Government Advisor

Health Educator

Intake Counselor

Lawyer

Market Research Analyst

Mental Health Worker

Negotiator

Nursing Home Administrator

Nursing Home Events Coordinator

Public Policy Analyst

Policy Advocate

Peace Corps/Vista Political Aide

Program Planner

Recreational Assistant

Research Analyst/Consultant

Respite Care Coordinator

Retirement Advisor

Senior Activity Coordinator

Social Worker

Social Services Administrator

Social Welfare Examiner

Teacher/Professor

Victim Services Specialist

Volunteer Coordinator

Related Major Skills:

Communication skills

Verbal and written knowledge of diversity issues

Critical thinking skills

Ability to research

Ability to organize and synthesize material in new ways

Observational skills

Analytical skills

Advocacy skills

Knowledge of community resources

Knowledge of social structures and change

Understanding of corporate and government organizational structures

Ability to understand and improve human relationships

Planning and managing skills Problem solving skills

Conflict resolution skills

Program Contact Information 

Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, Ph.D., Gerontology Program Coordinator

e-mail:  l-hollissawyer@neiu.edu

Lisa A. Hollis-Sawyer, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Master's Gerontology program and Psychology Department at Northeastern Illinois University. She received her doctorate in Industrial Gerontology from The University of Akron and conducted post-doctoral aging-related training at Boston University. Her research interests range from eldercare to aging workforce issues. Her current research is focusing on the impact of children's literature regarding aging on early aging perceptions and associated stereotyping tendencies.

Masami Takahashi, Ph.D., Generativity Club Faculty Advisor

e-mail: m-takahashi@neiu.edu

Masami Takahashi, Ph.D., is a Full Professor in the Master’s in Gerontology program and Psychology Department at Northeastern Illinois University. He received his undergraduate training in Texas, and eventually received his Ph. D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University, Philadelphia, PA. His research interest has been focusing on age-appropriate psychological constructs such as wisdom and spirituality. In addition, he also films aging experiences in various cultures. Currently, he is investigating psychosocial profiles of former suicide bombers during the WWII.

Other 

New Certificate in Gerontology

Who would need this certificate training? The better question is who will not need this type of training in the future, from either a professional or personal basis. A certificate program can meet the needs of those working in nursing and other health care professions, dentistry, social work, human services, long term care, housing, estate law, and human resources in the U.S. and internationally.

The most obvious target populations that would perceive a need for and benefits from the core knowledge base of Gerontology are health and human services yet many other fields and professions are also responding to the needs of this growing segment of the U.S. population and the international community (AGHE's Careers in Aging, 2004).

The proposed certificate program would be tailored to the needs and interests of professionals/practitioners across many disciplines and service industries that recognize the changing aging clientele, and do not have the time or desire to pursue a master's degree.

Certificate Program Design

The following courses total 12 credit hours, comparable to existing gerontology certificate programs in the Chicago area*:

Core Courses (9 credit hours total):

- PSYC 401: Gerontology: An Overview (3 credit hours)

- PSYC 402: Developmental Processes in Later Life (3 credit hours)

- PSYC 415: Practicum in Gerontology (3 credit hours)

Elective Courses (Choose 1 of 3):

- PSYC 403: Physiology of Aging (3 credit hours)

- PSYC 418: Public Policy and Aging (3 credit hours)

- PSYC 426: Values, Decision Making, and the Elderly (3 credit hours)

*It is expected that most people will take approximately one year to complete the certificate program.  

Anticipated Timeline for Completion

It is expected that most people will take approximately one year to complete the certificate program. A person is able to waive the practicum (PSYC 415) through documentation of acceptable past aging-related work and/or volunteer activities of at least 120 hours. He/she starts planning the internship during the first year and is able to complete the necessary 120 hours and associated paper by end of summer. If waived, the person would simply have to take an elective course to fill the 3 credit hour requirement.

a. Credit transfer policy into certificate program: Students may transfer up to 3 credit hours deemed by the Coordinator to be both graduate level course (3 credit hours) and related to the study of gerontology or a gerontology-related field.

b. Credit transfer policy from certificate program (once accepted into) to the M.A. in Gerontology program: Students may transfer up to 9 credit hours from certificate program into M.A. in Gerontology program within 5 years of taking first course in sequence. Gerontology

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