Gerontology program

The population of those age 65 and over in the U.S. is growing.

This group is predicted to increase from 13 % to 20 % of the country's residents by 2030. Shifting demographics means an increased demand for individuals with training and experience working with older adults and aging issues in almost every field.

UWL's Gerontology Emphasis is a multi-disciplinary program designed to assist students planning to enter fields directly involving older persons, and it is open to undergraduate students in any major. The study of gerontology will also help students to prepare for their own aging process and experiences with aging in their personal and professional lives.

Gerontology definition

Gerontology is the study of aging. Aging is a multifaceted human experience that begins at birth. Every individual undergoes changes in their social lives, cognitive health, emotional responses, and physical bodies as they develop. At UWL, Gerontology is an emphasis, meaning this topic can be interwoven with any academic area of interest that a student majors in such as economics, exercise and sport science, health education and promotion, philosophy, political science, psychology, therapeutic recreation, or sociology.

The gerontology classes I have taken have been some of the most interesting out of my time at UWL, and the professors behind the program are great! In Gerontology Club, we have found many creative ways to connect with older adults in our community and the many professionals who aid our aging population throughout Wisconsin.

Emily Ziegler

Gerontology jobs

Because of the breadth of gerontology, students need the skills and knowledge of a traditional major and then apply those skills to the field of aging. Jobs depend upon the major field completed.

For instance, students may leave campus with a degree in therapeutic recreation plus the gerontology emphasis and obtain employment working directly with older adults in therapeutic recreation. Others use their degrees to work in research, planning, management of services, or may have more indirect contact with older adults through policy development. Some pursue advanced degrees with a gerontological focus including, but not limited to a doctoral degree, master's in business, law degree, occupational therapy or physical therapy degree. Jobs could include:


  • Public policy professionals
  • Business professionals (accountants, economists, business managers/marketers, nursing care center administrators, advertisers)
  • Healthcare professionals (nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, therapeutic recreation specialists)
  • Psychologists/counselors, social workers
  • Legal professionals, attorneys
  • Journalists
  • Health educators
  • Medical ethicists
  • Physical educators
  • Researchers
  • Urban planners

What distinguishes UWL's Gerontology program?

Student involvement in Gerontology Club

The Gerontology Emphasis is supported by the student-run gerontology club, providing additional experience, learning and networking for students, with opportunities to interact with the greater community. 

Program flexibility

The Gerontology Emphasis is cross-disciplinary and flexible, enhancing career readiness. The emphasis includes 15 credits of coursework. At least six credits must be taken from the core and the nine remaining credits can be selected from the core, supportive courses, or other gerontology-related coursework, such as internships, approved by program coordinators.

Unique program

The Gerontology Emphasis is one of a limited number of Gerontology programs in Wisconsin.

Age-friendly university designation

UWL has been designated as an Age-Friendly University — the first university in the state to attain the designation. The Age-Friendly University (AFU) initiative is an international effort led by Dublin City University to highlight the role higher education can play in responding to the challenges and opportunities associated with an aging population. 

Growing field

The Gerontology Emphasis prepares students for careers and life in a rapidly changing world, impacted by shifting demographics. An aging population means increased demand for individuals with training and experience working with older adults and aging issues in almost every field. Examples include advertising, health and fitness, health economics, human services, law, management, and public policy.

Sample courses