Gerontology Minor

Gerontology is an interdisciplinary undergraduate minor that provides students with a broad view of the aging process. This discipline focuses on quality of life for older adults and how people can work together to ensure successful aging.

Why Study Gerontology at Ship?

The gerontology minor at Shippensburg University exposes you to many different disciplines - biology, psychology, sociology, humanities, social work - and are shown how aging relates to each. Graduates with a gerontology minor can show employers they have what it takes to serve the growing population of older adults. Knowledge about aging-related topics that address economic, political and social issues such as prescription drug benefits, social security, mandatory retirement ages, and the impact of Alzheimer's Disease can help you make informed decisions and contribute to both your employer and the well being of older adults in general.

To gain practical experience working with older adults, gerontology minors complete a required internship. Internships are broadly defined and we try to place our students in settings that match their career goals. For example, business oriented students can gain experience with a local business to learn about retirement planning, agency administration, or put their accounting skills to work. Ship's gerontology minor gives you the necessary tools to fulfill your educational goals.

In addition to internships, the gerontology program encourages you to volunteer your time to visit older people in nursing homes, help solicit signatures for later-life political initiatives, deliver meals to seniors who have mobility problems, or just sit down and talk with older adults at area senior community centers. These hands-on experiences with older adults provide unique opportunities to learn about the lives of older adults and what you can do to improve their quality of life.

Career Opportunities

Internships and volunteer experiences prepare you for the job market. There are a variety of career options in the gerontology field, including:

  • Community, Human Services, and Religious Organizations
  • Health Care and Long-term Care Institutions
  • Federal, State, and Local Government Agencies (Civil Service Exam Might Required)
  • Retirement Communities
  • Academic and Research settings
  • Professional Organizations
  • Business and Industry

Minor Requirements

To complete the gerontology minor you must complete 18 credits, which include:

  • Core Courses - Two required courses make up the core of this minor. Those are Introduction to Gerontology and Gerontology Internship I, which focuses on an experience in either a local business or human service agency that serves older adults such as a nursing home, senior center, or Area Office on Aging.
  • Electives - Electives are taken in a variety of disciplines such as psychology, sociology, exercise science, and social work.

The undergraduate catalog has more details about courses.

Outside of Class

You are welcome to join the Shippensburg Gerontological Organization (SGO), which is a student volunteer club that serves older adults in the Shippensburg community.

Contact Information

Dara Bourassa, PhD, LSW
Associate Professor and Director of Gerontology
Department of Social Work and Gerontology
325 Shippen Hall, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1969 (office)
(717) 477-4051 (fax)