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Gerontology Program  

For More Information

Dr. Mary Newman, Coordinator

Missouri State University
901 South National Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65897
Office: 417-836-6530
Fax: 417-836-8330
Email: marynewman@missouristate.edu

Career Preparation

A burgeoning field of study, Gerontology continues to grow as institutions of higher learning respond to the "graying" of our society’s population. Currently, 17 percent of all people in the U.S. are 60 years of age or older. This is expected to climb to 25 percent by the year 2030. Those 75 and older represent the fastest growing age group in the U.S. and those most in need of services. Missouri, and the southwest region in particular, has been aging more quickly than the national demographic trend.

Anticipated societal needs in the field of aging are projected to trigger job growth in all areas, especially trained professionals in health and applied sciences, social services, long-term care administration, policy and planning, retirement planning, recreation and tourism.  Professionals in other fields will also be in greater demand, e.g., in elder law and advocacy.

The emphasis on career preparation reflects one of the strengths of the Gerontology Program. Near the end of their academic studies,Gerontology students are required to do an intensive practicum placement.  This internship provides students with opportunities to apply their academic knowledge and skills through service to older adults within the community. These field placements are targeted toward the professional needs of our aged population. With such a rigorous program, graduating seniors exit Missouri State as professionals with knowledge, experience and the skills of several disciplines, uniquely preparing them for careers in gerontology.  Additional valuable advantages of this practicum experience are the contacts in the community.  Practicum supervisors often provide strong letters of recommendation for graduate school programs and jobs.  Frequently these contacts lead to a local career after graduation.

Professionals in gerontology describe it as an exciting and challenging field for students looking for careers in the 21st century. It is a rapidly expanding field and demand for personnel with gerontological training will continue to increase. Opportunities for employment of our graduates exist throughout the United States.

Academic Program

The Bachelor of Science in Gerontology is designed to provide students with a well-rounded academic base and prepare them for employment. It is an interdisciplinary program requiring students to complete course work in at least four different departments. It is also an applied program that provides students with hands-on experience working with older adults. While there are many opportunities in earlier courses within the major, the primary applied experience takes place during the student’s final semester. He or she completes a full-time supervised practicum for up to 36 hours per week during a 15-week period (this counts for 6-12 semester hours of credit).

At the same time, these students are enrolled in the Seminar in Gerontology course to apply knowledge from prior coursework and to provide weekly meetings with other students to exchange information and to share experiences. Students are encouraged to combine the Gerontology major with other academic interests by earning a minor to enhance their prospects for career placement or the pursuit of a graduate degree.

Major Bargain

Many students take advantage of the ability to earn a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in psychology and gerontology.  This can be accomplished, if planned carefully, in four years without any additional coursework or cost! The psychology training provides a broad education.  Gerontology provides the knowledge and skills for a career working with older adults.  This significantly enhances marketability upon graduation.

Program of Merit Recognition

In 1999, the Gerontology Program was recognized as a Program of Merit by the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education. The designation was awarded for a ten-year period citing such strengths as a well-developed curriculum, extensive applied experience offered to students, the scholarship of the Gerontology faculty, academic performance of students, employment of students after graduation, and the ongoing commitment to community service by students and faculty.


Students in the interdisciplinary Gerontology Program have access to more than 30 undergraduate courses offered by four departments. The following is just a representative list of some of the courses that may interest Gerontology majors. Please refer to the Missouri State Catalog online at www.missouristate.edu/catalog for a complete listing of course descriptions.

  • Social Forces and Aging
  • Psychology of Adulthood (young adulthood to old age)
  • Psychophysiology of Aging
  • Community Resources for Older Adults
  • Death and Human Behavior
  • Families in Later Life
  • Gender Issues in Later Life
  • Identity and Aging in Literature and Film
  • Aging & Adjustment


Two full-time faculty, Drs. Bradley Fisher and Carol Gosselink, teach in the Gerontology Program with four adjunct faculty who have full-time positions in other departments. All have Ph.D.s and each brings a special expertise from his or her primary field of study, further strengthening the interdisciplinary focus of the program. Gerontology faculty members emphasize an "open-door" policy and meet with students regularly to provide advisement on course work and career placement and to develop a working relationship with advisees.


The Gerontology Program, a unit of the Psychology Department within the College of Health and Human Services, is located in the Professional Building. Students have access to a computer laboratory located within the building, as well as a conference room where they can gather for a variety of purposes including special lectures and Gerontology club meetings. Numerous sites available for practicum placements include, but are not limited to, senior centers, human services agencies, wellness programs, area agencies on aging, hospitals, day care centers, and independent living, assisted living, and long-term care facilities.


The Gerontology Club of Missouri State brings together students and faculty who share an interest in the field of aging. One purpose of the club is to increase awareness about the process of aging. The club is also a service organization that participates in the Alzheimer’s Memory Walk, helps with the Annual Senior Art Exhibition, and raises funds to provide gifts for older adults without families. Through their activities, students participate in the public affairs mission of the university and seek to help both the campus and community embrace the motto: "Aging is Natural, Grow into It." For more information on the Gerontology Club, contact Dr. Carol A. Gosselink at 836-6859.

Sample Schedule

Missouri State is committed to assisting students to graduate in four years--see sample graduation plans for this major.

The following is a sample schedule for this major--your actual schedule will vary.

First Semester Courses Hours
PSY 121 Introductory Psychology3
ENG 110 Writing I3
Humanities Culture and Society3
Social Sciences3
GEP 101 First-Year Foundations2
Total Hours 16
Second Semester Courses Hours
COM 115 Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
MTH 135 College Algebra3
PLS 101 American Democracy and Citizenship3
PSY 200 Psychological Statistical Methods3
Total Hours 15

Sophomore Year

First Semester Courses Hours
Self Understanding/Social & Behavioral3
KIN 210 Healthy Lifestyles: Preventive Approaches3
American Studies3
GER 310 Social Forces and Aging3
Total Hours 17
Second Semester Courses Hours
CHM 107 Chemistry for the Citizen3
CHM 108 Chemistry for the Citizen Laboratory1
Self Understanding/Creativity & Vision3
Gerontology elective3
General Elective3
General elective3
Total Hours 17

Junior Year

First Semester Courses Hours
Health Sciences Course3
Gerontology elective3
PSY 365 Aging and Adjustment3
COM 390 Communication and Aging3
GER 470 Community Resources for Older Adults3
General elective3
Total Hours 19
Second Semester Courses Hours
Health Sciences Course3
PSY 365 Aging and Adjustment3
Gerontology elective3
Writing II course3
General Elective3
Total Hours 15

Senior Year

First Semester Courses Hours
Psychophysiology of Aging3
Gerontology elective3
PSY 300 Naturalistic Methods in Social Psychology3
Communication Skills3
General Elective3
Total Hours 15
Second Semester Courses Hours
Practicum in Gerontology6-12
GER 599 Seminar in Gerontology3
Total Hours 9-15