Gerontology program undergoes changes

Thaija Evans, Staff Reporter

Eastern’s Gerontology program is going mobile and taking on the new title “aging studies” this summer after 34 years of research on campus.

Aging studies, formerly known as the interdisciplinary gerontology program, will be a master’s program designed to examine the concepts of aging and give students the opportunity to research intergenerational aspects. All of the classes will be offered online over the course of 18 months.

Jacquelyn Frank, a family and consumer studies professor, is the department’s graduate coordinator.

“Aging studies reflects more of a life course perspective about aging rather than thinking it’s all just about old people,” Frank said.

The online courses will allow access to more students nationwide. Frank said the program decided to go mobile after several years of talk and contemplation. After the faculty realized how popular the program is, they wanted to make it more accessible.

“We’re just really excited about this transformation to totally online because it makes it a lot more flexible for people,” Frank said. “It’s also a lot less expensive.”

Tuition for the program is $12,500 for both in-state and out-of-state students.

The program will add an additional three departments including health studies, master of business administration, and communication studies to the seven that already exist, Frank said.

“The population is aging, and the need for people with specialization in aging is really critical,” Frank said.

Students and faculty will meet three times throughout the course of the program. The first meeting will include an orientation, a welcome dinner and a segment of the first class to allow students the opportunity to get to know each other and their professors, Frank said.

“I love the feel of the program and that family connectivity; it’s really critical to maintain that,” Frank said.

Frank said in the past students from programs such as psychology, kinesiology and health studies have transitioned to aging studies. Many of the students coming into the program have experience working in the field.

“We’ll each teach our classes in a somewhat different way,” Frank said.

The program’s objective is to ensure students receive direct services although the courses will be online.

“The technology has gotten so much better,” Frank said. “You really can make a virtual classroom experience, but you can also sit in your jammies at home with your laptop and be there and be involved.”

Thaija Evans can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].