News & Features

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Northeastern Illinois University gerontology master's program has been designated a Program of Merit by the (AGHE). The association noted Northeastern as the only state university in the Chicago area addressing the professional training need relative to an increasing local, national and international aging population.

"The program is all encompassing and gives a very good overview of the aging process and how it affects an individual," said Marie Gurnik, a graduate of the gerontology master's program at Northeastern.

AGHE developed standards and guidelines so programs would develop a rigorous and sustainable curriculum. The Program of Merit is awarded to gerontology programs that meet the spirit of these standards and guidelines.

The association highlighted a few strengths of Northeastern's gerontology program, including having a strong curriculum, active alumni and faculty who are productive with writing grants and papers. The association noted that Northeastern's program also is successful in targeting the educational needs of three different groups: those already working with older adults, those working toward a career change, and individuals in other fields who wish to increase their knowledge of the aging process.

"I work with seniors and their families every day," Gurnik said. "Understanding what they are going through in the aging process and helping them navigate is one of the most important areas in my job. The program at Northeastern has given me great insight into the world of seniors."

"We teach students how to optimize aging by showing them how to support human potential later in life," said Lisa Hollis-Sawyer, associate professor of psychology and coordinator of the gerontology program at Northeastern.

Hollis-Sawyer conducted the self-study of the gerontology program, which is a requirement to be considered a Program of Merit. She said part of the reason for the distinction is because Northeastern's program is focused on the positive aging movement.

"This program is successful in balancing both academic and applied training," Hollis-Sawyer said. "It goes back to the University's mission of mentoring and teaching students to lead in the world."

According to the AGHE, the gerontology program at Northeastern is an excellent model for similar programs at comparable institutions. The gerontology master's program at Northeastern is housed in the psychology department and currently has 52 graduate students enrolled.

To learn more about the program contact Dr. Lisa Hollis-Sawyer at or (773) 442-5846