About Us


Purpose

The Gerontology Program is administratively housed in the College of Health and Social Sciences (CHSS), and enjoys close collaborative relationships with other units throughout the college, University, and with the communities it serves. The Master of Arts (MA) in Gerontology is an applied, professional program designed for students preparing for a career in the field of aging, or a related human service field, who wish to improve their knowledge and skills.

Course work leading to the MA in Gerontology is designed to:

  • emphasize the broad, interdisciplinary nature of issues which relate to and influence older adults;
  • provide students with the academic background, professional experience, and research capabilities necessary to pursue advanced study at the doctoral level; and
  • prepare students for professional practice and leadership positions in the public and private sectors where gerontological knowledge is required.

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History and Philosophy

The Master of Arts in Gerontology program at SF State was established in 1986 and is the first, and thus the oldest, graduate program in Gerontology in the California State University and the University of California systems. The program is dedicated to the higher education of professionals using an interdisciplinary approach to serve the present and future needs of society in meeting the multiple challenges of an aging population; the conduct of applied research to increase the body of knowledge about issues and processes of aging; and the application of the discipline of gerontology in the community to advocate for improving the quality of care and quality of life for the aged.

The academic program adheres to the standards and guidelines established by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE) for professional master's level programs. In addition, the program faculty has advised active student organizations such as student chapters of the American College of Health Care Administrators (ACHCA), Gerontological Society of America (GSA), and Sixty Plus (lifelong learning for students age 60 and over). The program provides a gerontology library and shared meeting place for student activities.

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Applied, Skill-Based Professional Education

The Gerontology program emphasizes an applied, skill-based approach to professional education. To do this, it draws upon the strengths of the university and community as well as the expertise of the faculty.

The program resides in a richly diverse, multicultural environment which provides a natural laboratory for understanding and developing competencies around the aging experiences of different ethnic groups.
Students obtain knowledge of the discipline and its theoretical foundations. Students are prepared with tools which allow them to use quantitative and qualitative methods in applied research for solving a variety of practical problems in the community.

Gerontology at SF State includes advocacy for the aged in the continuum of care and actively engages in activities through links with other professionals to provide a comprehensive model of consumer-driven health and human services. Students can participate in learning and service where skills of needs assessment, program development, implementation and evaluation directly contribute to the community's well-being.

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Academic Auxiliaries

Two freestanding academic auxiliary units associated with the Gerontology program house development, research, and training projects. The Institute on Gerontology enjoys joint ventures with regional, national and international grants and contracts. The Health, Mobility, and Safety Lab is an academic auxiliary unit which provides on-going support in the areas of driver assessment, driver education, driver simulation, fall prevention, home safety, research and education for older adults. Students are encouraged to take full advantage of the clinical, direct service and research opportunities offered by these projects.

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Career Outlook

Gerontology is one of the fastest growing disciplines within the field of Health and Human Services. Current demographic projections indicate that California will experience a doubling of the population over the age of 65 by the year 2020; furthermore, of all age groups, the group over age 85, the oldest old, is increasing at the greatest rate. Not only will there be greater numbers of older persons by 2020, they will be increasingly single, female, and ethnically diverse. A Master of Arts (MA) in Gerontology prepares the student for effective performance in a career of service to older Americans. It also lays a firm academic foundation in applied gerontology for students who choose to work toward a doctoral degree. Students have the opportunity to choose a number of career paths in the field of aging within the public and private sectors.

Long-term care administration (LTCA) is a career opportunity in a period of expansion and diversification. Professional requirements vary widely depending on state and federal regulations for the specific area of administration. Long-term care administrators manage and direct the daily operations of long-term care facilities. Employment opportunities for long-term care administrators are available and may be found in assisted living facilities, geriatric care centers, home health care agencies, hospice facilities, hospital systems, rehabilitation facilities, residential care facilities for the elderly, retirement communities, senior centers, skilled nursing facilities, and special population programs (AIDS and mental health).

Geriatric Care Managers (GCMs) are among the most highly sought gerontological professionals in the United States. GCMs are hired by a variety of community-based agencies, private care management organizations and many GCMs are starting their own businesses. A GCM practice particularly lends itself to the entrepreneur who wishes to begin a small business to serve the community need. GCMs are certified and supported by the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. This professional association provides an interactive web site that links family members with certified care managers and offers high quality continuing education.

Health, wellness and aging programs and services are examples of the frontiers of applied research and recent federal funding via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Programs of health promotion are currently being created and funded in both the private and public sectors and accumulating research describes a direct link between health and wellness and life style choices. Senior centers, retirement communities, long-term institutions and professional organizations serving older persons now recognize the need for making wellness a priority in planning, programs and services. Health and wellness are also new priorities for school children and adults and students may explore career opportunities for intergenerational practice. Students choosing a Gerontology emphasis in health, wellness and aging are prepared for professional practice in local, state and federal government, the for-profit and not-for profit sectors and organizations from AARP to the YMCA.

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