Admissions Office
The College of St. Scholastica
1200 Kenwood Avenue
Duluth, MN 55811
(218) 723-6046
(800) 249-6412
TTY/TDD: (218) 723-6790

Angela Hauger, Ph.D., L.P.
Program Director
Tower Hall, Room 3650
(218) 723-6148


Fast Facts: Gerontology

  • Founded ahead of its time about 30 years ago, the gerontology program is still going strong today
  • Coursework centers on the psychological, biological and social elements of aging
  • Given the enormous number of the baby boomers now becoming older adults, a background in gerontology is a valuable credential
  • The program is a perfect complement to such majors as Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Nursing, Social Work, Psychology, Exercise Physiology, Medicine, Psychiatry and Biology
  • Professors from several departments teach the required gerontology courses-giving students diverse and critical perspectives on the process of aging
  • St. Scholastica was named on the list of Top 200 schools for Native Americans pursuing degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) by Winds of Change magazine

Program Requirements

Minor: 20 Credits
Certificate: Available to students who are not seeking a degree.

Research or Internships

Through the Gerontology Directed Applied Project (GERO-DAP), students take their textbook knowledge and put it to work in a variety of appropriate settings. Students in the GERO-DAP have completed projects at a number of different agencies, including the Benedictine Health Center; Arrowhead Area Agency on Aging; the Minnesota-North Dakota Chapter of the Alzheimer's Association; Edgewood Vista Senior Living and Retirement; and the Essentia Health-Polinsky Medical Rehabilitation Center.


With the number of adults 65 and older growing faster than any other segment of the population, those with a background in gerontology are needed and in demand. Recent graduates with a gerontology minor have gone on to pursue graduate study in gerontology or careers in Social Work, Psychology, Nursing, Exercise Physiology, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy.

Sample Curriculum

Here are some classes you could take as part of this major or minor. Please note that you would not necessarily need all of these courses to fulfill a major or minor. This list doesn't include general education courses. Be sure to create your course plan in consultation with your advisor.

Course Creation Center

Expand and Collapse Coursework

Expand and Collapse GER 2203 - U.S. Healthcare System

History and development of the healthcare system in the U.S.; health in society today; types of healthcare institutions and services; organizational structure, roles of health care professionals and functions of hospitals and other health facilities; accountability in healthcare and the role of government in healthcare; introduction to current models of healthcare financing.

Expand and Collapse GER 3310 - Religious Perspectives on Living, Dying, and Grieving

Consideration of questions related to suffering, dying, prolonging and manipulating life. Study examines topics related to the meaning and end of human life according to various religious and cultural viewpoints. Topics include the quality and sacredness of life, end of life moral issues, funeral rites, grief and mourning, suicide, and perspectives on life after death.

Expand and Collapse GER 3315 - Psychosocial Aspects of Aging

Overview of the aging individual within a social context. The focus is on characteristics of today's older adult cohort, psychological processes in late life, the social context in which older adults live and society's response to older adults. Topics include: demographics, stereotypes and attitudes, research methods, theories of development, sensing and responding to the environment, cognitive processes, mental disorders and treatment, death and dying, sexuality, intimate relationships, family relationships, caregiving, employment and retirement, finances, Social Security, Medicare, living environments, ethnicity, gender, crimes against and by older adults, social programs, and political power of the older cohort.

Expand and Collapse GER 3316 - Health and Functioning in Late Life

Overview of the basic principles and concepts of the normal aging process, including the realities of physical aging and common health deviations. Theories of aging, physiological changes in the older adult, and common chronic diseases are explored. Health promotion, preventive action and the healthcare system for the older adult are components of the course content.

Expand and Collapse GER 3318 - Spirituality and Aging

Examination of the ongoing, dynamic, creative process of spiritual growth and physical development in the older adult. Focus includes: the normal aging process as it deals with meaning in life; ageism; death and dying issues; various forms of ministry for and with the aging population; and transitions of life which can facilitate the continued search for spiritual fulfillment.

Expand and Collapse GER 3325 - Group Dynamics

Study of psychological principles and development of personal skills in working with groups. Topics include group facilitation, ways in which groups are studied, stages of group development, leadership, communication, norms and roles, power, conflict and ethics. Opportunity is given to experience these dynamics in small groups. Prerequisite: one course in general or developmental psychology, or junior status in the communication department, or consent of the instructor.

Expand and Collapse GER 3341 - Introduction to Counseling

Identification of communication and counseling skills for working with all age groups. Topics include active listening skills, counseling process, empathic responding, barriers to communication, assets and limitations of paraprofessional helpers and counseling ethics. Prerequisite: one course in general or developmental psychology or consent of the instructor.

Expand and Collapse GER 3424 - Mental Health and Aging

Examination of the mental and emotional health of adults over 65 years of age. Factors that contribute to good mental health are discussed; however, a major emphasis is on the manifestation and treatment of mental disorders in late life. Topics include: diagnosing and treating mental disorders, psychosocial factors that affect mental health, stress, grief, depression, suicide, schizophrenia, paranoia, anxiety disorders, delirium, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and alcoholism. Prerequisite: PSY 2208 or PSY/GER/SOC 3315 (or equivalent) or consent of instructor.

Expand and Collapse GER 3777 - Topics in Gerontology

Courses not a part of the regular gerontology curriculum but taught at upper-division level because of special need, interest or opportunity.

Expand and Collapse GER 4125 - Biology of Aging

Study of aging changes evident in humans as the result of time interacting with molecular mechanisms of the biological systems. Current knowledge of these mechanisms will be examined, followed by an application of the basic principles of biological aging to the systems of the body. Prerequisite: completed course in anatomy/physiology or instructor permission.

Expand and Collapse GER 4444 - Research in Gerontology

Students either (a) initiate and implement empirical research in an area of special interest or (b) participate in an ongoing empirical research project developed by a faculty member. For student-initiated projects, the student develops the research proposal, conducts the research and reports the research in standard APA format. For faculty-initiated research, students work one-on-one with the faculty member or as part of his/her research team of students. Activities may include doing library research, developing measures, collecting data, analyzing data and writing portions of research reports using APA style. Prerequisite: consent of supervising faculty member and gerontology program director.

Expand and Collapse GER 4555 - Gerontology Directed Applied Project

Provides first-hand experience in the field of aging services. Students engage in fieldwork with or advocating for older adults in a community setting. Students must work with a faculty advisor, typically the gerontology program director, to: (a) write the GERODAP proposal including objectives and how the objectives will be met, (b) write the GERODAP final paper, and (c) participate in the oral exam. Evaluation is by the faculty advisor, a faculty reader, and the on-site supervisor. Prerequisites: 3 gerontology courses and consent of gerontology program director.

Expand and Collapse NSG 4448 - Gerontology Nursing Elective

Introduces the nursing student to holistic nursing care of the older adult population. The student will explore the physical and psychosocial changes associated with aging, common geriatric syndromes, and evidence-based concepts in the care of older adults.

Expand and Collapse SWK 4440 - SWK Intervention with Groups

This course is the third sequenced course of four practice courses required for all Social Work majors. The course incorporates knowledge and skill content developed in SWK 3370 and SWK 3383. Students examine the nature and development of social work group practice within task and treatment groups. Specific attention is given to group dynamics theory, leadership and group facilitation skills, stages of group development, theories and techniques adapted to a variety of treatment and task group settings, ethical standards for group practice, and cultural and ethnic consideration in social work group intervention. Students have the opportunity to demonstrate group facilitation and memberships skills in group labs. In addition, students receive instruction in implementing empirically based interventions in evaluating practice effectiveness. Prerequisites SWK 2240 and SWK 3370.

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  • "The gerontology courses have opened my eyes to the many issues older adults face. I believe that taking gerontology courses will benefit my career because I'd like to work in geriatrics, particularly with those who suffer from dementia. No matter what your major is, I highly recommend the gerontology program."

    – Stephanie Davich, ‘14