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Introduction 

  Association for Gerontology in Higher Education's

             Program of Merit Award (2013-2018)

 

 

Program Mission  Established in 1991, the mission of the Gerontology Program at Northeastern Illinois University NEIU) is to contribute to the quality of life of older adults through education, research and community service. To that end, the program seeks to train practitioners through a broad education in the history, characteristics, and circumstances of this older population and prepare them to make a contribution to direct service, advocacy, and research. As such, this program is appropriate for individuals working in the field, for those seeking professional level entry into the field, and also for those whose interest is in studying aging for their own academic or personal growth.

View the following gerontology students' testimonial video:

 

Program Focus  The M.A. in Gerontology Program is designed to meet the educational needs of a variety of student groups: those already working with the elderly, those contemplating a career change, and those working in other fields who wish to increase their knowledge of aging processes. To address these needs, students complete a set of required courses providing a solid background in the concepts of gerontology. Additional elective courses permit the student to gain expertise in either counseling/clinical or administration/social policy. This combination of general and specific course work prepares students for positions in direct service or in administration and policy analysis. The program is also structured to ensure the development of skills in both theoretical and applied research, enabling students to be proficient consumers, reviewers, and generators of research in gerontology.

Who are the students?  One group of students in the M.A. in 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.

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.

Prospective students who would like to take a graduate course to see whether this program would fit their educational needs before applying may enroll as a "student at large." To enter as a "student at large" call the NEIU Admissions Office and request an application form. Deadlines for admission as a student at large are: April 1 for Summer term, July 1 for Fall term, and November 1 for Spring term. Individuals may take up to three gerontology courses as a student at large. These courses will apply directly to the M.A. in Gerontology degree.

Degree Requirements 

Click on the Coordinator's e-mail for more information:  l-hollissawyer@neiu.edu

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:

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 optional 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. Student can also choose to take a comprehensive final exam (two parts) in the last semester prior to graduation.

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. Within this growing area of specialization, check out the emerging professional training initiatives through the American Psychological Association in Geropsychology.


 

Suggested 4-Year Course Schedule 

Tentative Class Schedule (Fall 2014 – Summer 2018)

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

Spring 2015*
PSYC 402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 418 - Public Policy (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC406 - Aging and the Family (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2015*
PSYC 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*
PSYC 401 - Gerontology: An Overview (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 403 - Physiology of Aging (Saszik) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 434 - Aging Services Network (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Spring 2016*
PSYC 402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 408 - Research Methods in Gerontology (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 426 - Values, Decision Making, and the Elderly (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2016*
PSYC 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*
PSYC 401 - Gerontology: An Overview [Night] (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 414 - Psychotherapy with Older Adults (Farmer) [Elective M. A. Course]
PSYC 420 - Seminar in Proposal Writing (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus   

Spring 2017*
PSYC 402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 418 - Public Policy (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 434 - Aging services Network (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2017*
PSYC 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 2017*
PSYC 401 - Gerontology: An Overview (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 403 - Physiology of Aging (Saszik) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 406 - Aging and the Family (Hollis-Sawyer) [Elective M. A. E-Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Spring 2018*
PSYC 402 - Developmental Processes in Aging (Takahashi) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 408 - Research Methods in Gerontology (Hollis-Sawyer) [Required M.A. Course]
PSYC 426 - Values, Decision Making, and the Elderly (Bennett) [Required M.A. Course]
*take other graduate elective course offered in other graduate programs on campus

Summer 2018*
PSYC 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

Opportunities 


There are many opportunities to get involved in aging-related volunteer and training activities:

Join the Generativity Club, a Gerontology club for both undergraduate and graduate students, to socialize and network with professionals in the field! E-mail the club advisor:  m-takahashi@neiu.edu

Speak with the field coordinator to tailor practicum/internship experiences for your specific career interests and aspirations!  E-mail the field coordinator:  l-hollissawyer@neiu.edu

Contact the coordinator for current volunteer and networking opportunities: l-hollissawyer@neiu.edu


 

Careers & Employment 

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) (source:  NEIU Career Counseling Center):

Administrator Advocate

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, and conflict resolution skills

Program Contact Information 

Gerontology Coordinator:  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.

Full-time Gerontology Faculty:  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.

Contact Us!

If you have any questions and/or would like to set up a meeting to discuss your interest in gerontology further, please feel free to contact us for an appointment:

Gerontology Program Coordinator:  Dr. L. Hollis-Sawyer, Office: BBH 307E, Phone: (773) 442-5846,                   E-mail: l-hollissawyer@neiu.edu

Gerontology Full-time Faculty: Dr. Masami Takahashi Science Building, Office: BBH 307A, Phone:  (773) 542-5845 E-mailm-takahashi@neiu.edu

Psychology Department Office: Bonnie Fritz, Office Manager Science Building, Office: BBH 313F, Phone: (773) 442-5840

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