Gerontology Minor

Gerontology - The Growing Need

The United States, like most developed nations, is currently experiencing a population change new to civilization. The population is aging. About one out of every nine U.S. citizens is 65 years of age or over, and about one out of eight Pennsylvanians is 65 or over. Current estimates are that both the number and percentage of elderly people will continue to rise for many years. There is a growing need for persons educated to understand the nature and needs of human aging.

Gerontology, the study of human aging and problems of the elderly, is a relatively new and developing field, and not all service systems have yet incorporated gerontology degrees into criteria for employment positions. However, feedback from today's students and employers in a wide variety of fields is that degrees or course work in gerontology can positively influence employability. There seems to be little doubt that with the predicted increases in both the number and the percentage of older persons in the population, some gerontology course work will be a valuable part of any professional resume.

Gerontology Minor OVerview

Millersville University has an interdisciplinary minor Gerontology. The program's objectives include increasing knowledge, examining values, and improving skills to help prepare students to live as and with aging people and to prepare them for a career in helping the elderly. The program also is designed to improve the understanding and competence of students already working within this specialized area.

The Gerontology student must complete 18 semester hours.

Required Courses

Students pursuing the minor in gerontology are required to take the following courses (15.0 credits):

  • Gerontology 100: Introduction to Gerontology
  • Social Work 315: Grief and Bereavement
  • Social Work 306: Social Work and Aging
  • Social Work 307: Social Work and Healthcare
  • Sociology 210: Sociology of the Family

Gerontology minors also must take one elective course from the following list (3.0 credits):

  • Nursing 316: Women, Health, and Health Care
  • Nursing 350: Pathways to Healthy Aging
  • Psychology 229: The Adult Years
  • Philosophy 280: Philosophy of Death and Dying
  • WSSD 395: Leisure Activities for the Aged

Other courses approved by the Gerontology Minor Coordinator may also be used as an elective.

Interested in the Gerontology Minor? Please contact:

Dr. Joyous Bethel
Gerontology Minor Coordinator
717-871-5927 or email

  • Course Descriptions

    GERT 100: 3 s.h.

    Introduction to Gerontology (G3)

    An introduction to the field of aging and examination of the physiological, sociological, psychological and economic perspectives. This course also focuses on problems of the aged at levels of self, interactions with others and the broader societal context.

    SOWK 315: 3 s.h.

    Grief and Bereavement (D)

    Provide a framework for critical analysis of the dynamics of grief and bereavement. Combining a general social systems perspective, an ecological perspective, and the problem-solving approach, this course will assist students to integrate knowledge about grief and bereavement into their knowledge of practice theory and human behavior at the micro, mezzo, and macro levels. Students will appreciate the diversity of grieving practices and rituals among cultural, religious, and ethnic groups. Bereavement dynamics across the life span are addressed. The impact of death and disaster at the community level will be understood, including assessment tools and intervention strategies.

    SOWK 306: 3 s.h.

    Social Work and Aging

    A developmental approach to the aging process as one phase of the life cycle; biological, psychological, social and economic needs of the elderly; analysis of societal provision for these needs; public-policy issues and pertinent social legislation; community-based programs of social and health services; techniques of generic social work with older persons; advocacy and policy planning for the aging. lectures and discussion supplemented with audiovisual material, speakers and field visits as available. Volunteer experience with an older person or persons required. 

    SOWK 307: 3 s.h.

    Social Work and Healthcare

    Scope and contribution of professional social work in comprehensive healthcare settings focusing on individual and community health needs, social and behavioral aspects of illness, essential practice components and skills required of social workers, healthcare policy, issues and trends, alternative healthcare programs and research needs.

    SOCY 210: 3 s.h.

    Sociology of the Family (G3)

    The family as a social institution. Topics include the family in mass society, diverse family forms, human sexuality, typologies of love, mate selection, husband-wife interaction, parent-child interaction, family disorganization and American ethnic families. Specific topics may vary.

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