College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Information for Students


Welcome from the Program Coordinator!

Elaine EshbaughWe currently offer the only 4 year degree in Gerontology in the state of Iowa. Our Gerontology program is a part of the Iowa Consortium for Aging Programs, and our faculty regularly attend and present at the annual Association for Gerontology in Higher Education Conference. UNI hosted the Rural Aging Conference in the spring of 2011.

We offer two tracks within the Gerontology major: Long Term Care Administration and Social Sciences. We also offer a minor in Gerontology.

Our program works with the state of Iowa to ensure that the Long Term Care Administration track meets the state requirements for nursing home administration.

We look forward to working with you as you learn more about opportunities in gerontology. Please do not hesitate to contact our program for assistance in pursuing your educational and career goals.


Dr. Elaine M. Eshbaugh (

Associate Professor of Gerontology

Watch a short video about careers in aging.

On our website, you will find the following:



What is gerontology?

Gerontology is the study of aging and related issues. Careers in gerontology will show tremendous growth in the future due to the aging of the Baby Boom generation and increased longevity in our society. Geriatrics is a similar field that is more focused on health-related needs of older adults.

What does the Gerontology program at UNI offer?

We offer students:

  • The only bachelor's degree in Gerontology in Iowa
  • An educational background in a growing and exciting field
  • Diverse, interdisciplinary coursework
  • Committed and passionate faculty
  • Opportunities to attend aging-related presentations and conferences
  • Individualized advising
  • Hands-on internship experiences
  • Opportunities for volunteer work in the local community

What should I do if I'm not sure if Gerontology is the right major or minor for me?

UNI's Office of Academic Advising works with students who are choosing majors and minors. In addition, Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh ( coordinates the Gerontology Program at UNI and can provide specific information about opportunities in aging-related fields.

I'm a high school or community college student interested in enrolling at UNI to pursue Gerontology. Where should I start?

Great! The Office of Admissions can help you start the application process. You can also email

How do I find the main office for Gerontology?

Gerontology is housed in the School of Applied Human Sciences (SAHS). The SAHS main office is 235 Latham Hall. Click here for a map of the UNI campus.

How can I declare a major or minor in Gerontology at UNI if I am a current UNI student?

Students can fill out declaration of major/minor forms in the School of Applied Human Sciences office  (235 Latham Hall).

What are some of the classes I might take as a Gerontology major/minor?

Core courses in the curriculum are Families & Aging, Psychology of Aging, and Social Gerontology. You might also take courses like Issues in Human Growth & Development, Developmental Psychology, Intro to Public Health, Issues in Family Policy, Perspectives on Death & Dying, Biomedical Ethics, Social Services for Older Adults, and Management of Family Resources.

Does a student need a minimum GPA to declare a major or minor in Gerontology at UNI?

No, there is not a minimum GPA to declare or maintain a major or minor in Gerontology. However, students should be aware of the UNI Registrar's Office policies on academic probation and suspension.

What are the differences between the two major tracks in Gerontology?

The Long Term Care Administration track is for students who plan to become licensed long term care administrators. It requires 10 credits hours in business, 14 credit hours in health care administration, and 9 credit hours in gerontology. This exceeds the state of Iowa's requirements for long term care administrators. After completing an extensive internship (720 contact hours), graduates sit for the boards to obtain state licensure.

The Social Sciences track qualifies students to work in a variety of settings. It does not require business classes. Graduates in Gerontology: Social Sciences have diverse careers with both active and frail older adults in corporate, government, and non-profit agency environments. Social science track majors must complete an internship of 250 contact hours.

Does UNI have a graduate program in Gerontology?

No, UNI currently only has an undergraduate Gerontology program.

How large is the Gerontology major at UNI?

It's a smaller major, but it's growing! Although there is only one full-time faculty member in gerontology, a interdisciplinary faculty from across campus teach in the program.

Is the Gerontology program online?

UNI's Gerontology program is not an online program. This program is not designed for the working adult. However, certain courses (such as Psychology of Aging and Medical Terminology) may be regularly offered online.

Can you tell me about the job market for aging professionals?

Yes, certainly! Today, the population of the United States is rapidly aging. The oldest of the baby boomers will turn 65 this year, and by 2030 almost 20% of the population is expected to be over the age of 65 (Older Americans, 2008). Along with the aging of the population comes the mandate to provide services to meet their health and social needs.  It follows that there is a growing demand for individuals who wish to pursue aging related careers in order to meet those needs. Gerontology professionals work in a variety of employment settings and may be directly or indirectly involved in the lives of older adults. For example, applied gerontologists work directly with older adults and their families as social workers, care providers, health professionals and in other health and social service positions. However, other professionals who understand the unique characteristics of aging are also in demand. Employment opportunities in the aging industry do not only involve caring for older adults, but also working with them as financial managers, housing specialists, designers, health educators, transportation specialists, advocates, and in a myriad of other ways that focus on improving the quality of life for aging individuals. Unfortunately, studies suggest a national shortage of professionals capable of providing effective services for this population.

If I have a degree in Gerontology, do I have to work in a nursing home?

No, certainly not. Although there are jobs available in nursing homes and other residential facilities, there are many other career paths for professionals in aging. 



Do I have to get a minimum grade in courses for them to count toward the Gerontology major or minor?

Students must PASS courses by earning a D- or higher for courses to count toward the Gerontology major or minor.

Must students have a certain GPA to graduate with a degree in Gerontology?

There is no minimum GPA to graduate with a degree in Gerontology. However, university academic regulations apply to all Gerontology majors. Please consult the Registrar's Office for more about these policies. In addition, the following site summarizes academic suspension and probation policies:

Are all of the classes in the Gerontology major/minor offered each semester?

No, only some of the coursework is offered in a particular semester. Some classes are regularly offered only in the spring or fall. Other classes may be offered on a variable basis. This is why it is important to plan ahead and visit with your academic adviser. Also note the pre-requisites associated with each class.

Who should I contact for Gerontology advising at UNI?

For Gerontology advising, please contact Dr. Elaine Eshbaugh at Dr. Eshbaugh advises all Gerontology majors. You can email her to make an appointment to talk about the majors and/or minor. High school and community college students considering the major/minor are welcome to come in for appointments as well.

What minors are recommended for Gerontology majors?

We recommend that Gerontology: Long Term Care Administration majors consider pursuing a minor in General Business Concepts through the College of Business. Gerontology: Social Science majors have pursued minors in areas such as Family Studies, Psychology, Ethics, Health Promotion, Women's Studies, and Sociology. A minor is not required for Gerontology majors.

Do all Gerontology majors have to do an internship?

Yes, an internship is required of students on the LTC Administration track and the Social Sciences track. The LTC Administration track requires a 720 hour internship. This meets state requirements for nursing home administration licensure. The Social Sciences track requires a 250 hour internship. Please discuss internship options with your adviser early in the semester before you plan to intern. It is recommend that Social Science track students take Professional Practice (in Family Services) in the semester before their internship.

For more information about Social Science track internships, click here.

For more information about LTC administration internships, visit click here.

Do Gerontology minors have to do an internship?

No, an internship is not required for Gerontology minors.

What classes should I take as a freshmen if I plan to pursue a Gerontology major?

We recommend that you consider taking Intro to Sociology, Intro to Psychology, Family Relationships, Human Growth & Development, and Social Welfare: A World View early in your college career because they are pre-requisites for upper level courses in the major.

What part-time jobs are recommended for Gerontology majors and minors?

Gerontology majors, particularly those who plan to become nursing home administrators, may want to consider becoming CNAs. CNA training is available at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo. In addition, there are often opportunities in areas such as dietary at nursing homes. Students may also want to pursue employment through home health care agencies. Often home health care agencies offer opportunities to help older adults with light housekeeping and errands, in addition to providing companionship.

What volunteer opportunities are recommended for Gerontology majors and minors?

Volunteer work is strongly recommended for all Gerontology students! Nursing homes offer a variety of opportunities for volunteering. This is ideal for students in the LTC Administration track. Obviously, it is important to get experience in a nursing home if you would like to be a nursing home administrator. Other opportunities for Gerontology majors and minors are available at assisted living facilities, retirement communities, and senior centers. Area agencies on aging also provide opportunities, especially if they coordinate a senior meals program (a.k.a., Meals on Wheels). Students may also want to consider being an ombudsman (resident advocate) for a nursing home. Hospices also provide many volunteer possibilities, including respite care.

Gerontology students may want to explore the following agencies as they consider volunteer work in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area:

Habitat for Humanity

NewAldaya Lifescapes

Western Homes Communities

Friendship Village

Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging

Cedar Valley Hospice

Iowa Hospice

Volunteer Center of the Cedar Valley

Care Initiative Hospice

Where should Gerontology majors go for help with their resumes?

UNI's Office of Career Services offers resume and cover letter help. They offer a service that allows students to email their resumes for review and feedback. It is strongly suggested that you use their services before submitting a resume to an employer or internship site. 

Follow us on Twitter @UNI_GERONTOLOGY.

Click here to return to WELCOME page.