Gerontologists study the cultural, physical, social, and economic conditions of older adults. Gerontology differs from Geriatrics in that geriatrics is concerned with the clinical and medical aspects of aging, whereas gerontology is concerned with more social aspects of how aging affects populations. In recent years, issues in minority aging have received particular attention.

The Department of Gerontology at SDSU has been at the national forefront in developing new knowledge, stimulating professional interest, and influencing national policy in the area of minority aging, in keeping with the country’s changing demographics. To achieve this goal the Department is actively involved in:

  • Multidisciplinary education and curriculum development
  • Short-term training
  • Certificate Program
  • Degree programs at both Bachelor and Master levels
  • Applied research
  • Technical assistance and consultation
  • Student involvement in community service
  • Older adult campus programs

Program Overview

Multidisciplinary Education 

The Department of Gerontology offers a variety of different levels of courses in gerontology. Students from all disciplines, professionals already working in the field of aging, older adults, and others who may wish to increase their knowledge and understanding in gerontology will find a variety of learning opportunities available. The Department of Gerontology offers two academic degrees in gerontology, a Bachelor of Art (Minor and Major) in gerontology and a Master of Science degree in gerontology. Other opportunities include the Certificate Program in Applied Gerontology (conducted through the College of Extended Studies), as well as short-term training, and curriculum enrichment programs.

B.A. in Gerontology

The major is designed for students who want to pursue program management or implementation in aging networks. Students will gain a better understanding of the roles of older adults and their contributions to society.  All candidates for a B.A. in liberal arts and sciences must complete the graduation requirements listed in the section of the SDSU General Catalog on “Graduation Requirements.”  No more than 36 units in gerontology courses can apply to the degree. A minor is not required for the major.

Minor in Gerontology

The minor curriculum combines two basic kinds of expertise: (1) increased knowledge of the physiological, psychological, and sociological processes of aging, and (2) the development of in-service skills to address the social needs which accompany these processes.

Students electing this minor do so to accomplish different goals: (1) training for a service career in the field of aging; (2) preparation for a specialized graduate program; or, (3) personal enrichment and development in understanding the aging process. The gerontology minor is an asset to students seeking employment in such fields as health care, counseling, recreation, nutritional service, education, business, welfare services, and private and public administration. No more than 18 units in gerontology courses can apply to the minor.

Certificate in Applied Gerontology

The certificate program is designed for persons working in the field of aging as well as those interested in entering the field. Completion of the certificate program will enable participants to assume greater responsibility in this specialty. The Department is responsible for the coordination of the Certificate Program in conjunction with the College of Extended Studies. No more than 18 units in gerontology courses can apply to the certificate.

Admission applications may be obtained from the College of Extended Studies. Applications may be submitted prior to entering the program or before completion of nine semester units of coursework. Students are required to submit an Open University Registration Form each semester to the College of Extended Studies. Students accepted into the program will be assigned to an adviser by the Department of Gerontology.  For additional information, call the College of Extended Studies at (619) 594-5162.

M.S. in Gerontology

This flagship program provides students with a comprehensive education in gerontology and policy. The program is designed to provide systematic advanced education in gerontology for those planning to enter professions related to higher education, social services, health services, government, or business. The M.S. will provide education for those interested in the area of policy, theory and its applications, health and aging, community services, program development, and biostatistical evaluation. Students will gain a better understanding of the roles of older people and their contributions to society. The program will also prepare students for entry to doctoral level education.

Special Features

Field Experience. One of the unique features of the gerontology major includes field placement opportunities available in numerous local and state health-related agencies and service organizations. Both the undergraduate and the graduate programs are required to undertake two internship For example, students have the opportunity to work in a variety of organizations that focus on policy development and analysis, service delivery, housing, and general programs that support the daily needs of older people.

Career Opportunities

According to the Department's most recent alumni survey, 75% of the gerontology graduates secure jobs in the aging "network" and 80% of those stay in the San Diego area. There are a variety of professional levels at which individuals can work. The following list provides an overview of the types of opportunities available to those preparing to pursue employment in the field of aging:

• Community Organizations • Hospices
• Government Agencies • Adult Enrichment Centers
• Non-Profit Agencies • Social Services
• Health Facilities • Financial/Retirement Planning
• Exercise Training • Sales and Marketing
• Physical Therapy • Research
• Rehabilitation • Elder Law
• Home Health Care • Advocacy
• Nutrition Sites • Private Consultation
• Teaching • Adult Protective Services

For more information on career opportunities visit these sites:
SDSU Department of Gerontology
Careers in Aging

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Gerontology program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.