Back to University Catalog 2005-2007

Behavioral Science Graduate Program

College of Health and Human Services

Master of Arts

Gerontology Option



Matthew Ting, Coordinator, Gerontology Option

Fumiko Hosokawa, Margaret Parker, Sharon Raphael, Advisors

College of Health and Human Services Student Services Center: WH A-300 (310) 243-2120; (800) 344-5484

Program Office:  WH A-310 (310) 243-3881


Emeritus Faculty

David Nasatir


Program Description

The Graduate Gerontology Program is flexible and interdisciplinary.  It addresses many needs of beginning and mid-career professionals in various aging service capacities, as well as government, profit, and nonprofit organizations, and those interested in a career change.  Courses are scheduled evenings and Saturdays to meet the needs of working professionals.

The Gerontology Option addresses theories, research, and practices necessary for those seeking to become professional gerontologists.  Courses on long-term care, death and dying, and community services will interest direct care providers and counselors.  Courses on social policy and economics of aging will interest program administrators and lobbyists.  Retirement planning has practical value for everyone.  Special topic courses allow students to expand knowledge of specialty areas within the field.




Individuals with a bachelor's degree in any major and a GPA of 3.20 or above (4-point scale) in the last 60 semester or 90 quarter units of upper division course work from any accredited college or university may apply for admission with classified status.  Applicants must submit the standard admission application by May 1 for admission in the subsequent August.   Currently the program does not require the Graduate Record Examination.  However, both options do require a 500-word biographical essay, and the Negotiation and Conflict Management Option also requires three letters of recommendation.  The biographical statement and letters of recommendation must address: (1) what in the applicant's background indicates this subject matter is appropriate for the applicant, (2) why applicant desires this degree program, and (3) what does applicant plan to do with this degree once obtained.  Applicants will be selected to fill the vacancies in each program in the fall semester only on the basis of grade point average and an evaluation of the biographical statement and letters of recommendation (where required).


Once admitted, students must complete their program with a grade point average of at least 3.2.  All courses used to fulfill the requirements for the masters degree must be passed with a grade of "C" or better.  No more than 9 units total can be included from other departments or universities, be completed prior to formal admission to the program, or have course numbers below 500; none can be numbered below 300.  Students must be in continuous attendance as defined elsewhere in this University Catalog.  No course completed as part of another degree, and
no course completed more than 5 years before the date of graduation date can be included.

Students must meet the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) by scoring 8 or above on University Graduation Writing Examination (GWE) or by earning at least a "B" in an undergraduate certifying course (see the section of the catalog explaining the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement).  

All other university requirements specified in this University Catalog must be met (see the Graduate Degrees and Postbaccalaureate Studies section).

Final Projects

Degree students must complete a culminating activity.  This may be either a thesis, a project, or successful completion of a  comprehensive examination. 

A thesis or project is carried out under the supervision of three full-time university faculty members chaired by a member of the Behavioral Science Graduate Program.  A thesis usually involves systematic study of a significant problem using a generally recognized methodology.  A project usually involves creative application of theory or practice to a social problem.  Completion of the thesis or project within the five-year time limit for the degree is the student's responsibility.  Up to 6 semester units may be awarded for the thesis, project or the comprehensive examination course.

Students should register for the examination with the program office and take it during  the final semester.  Examinations are evaluated independently by two faculty members. 

The Gerontology comprehensive examination is divided into two parts:  a preparation period and the actual exam.  The exam will be given over a five hour period once a year, usually in the spring semester.  Students should register for the exam by the second week of the semester. 

Incomplete Courses

Students have one year to remove incomplete courses from their record, after which a failing grade automatically will be assigned.  In rare cases such as a lengthy documented hospital stay, extensions might be granted.  Students will not be permitted to enroll in new courses if they have two or more incomplete courses on their record.

Credit by Examination

Courses in the Behavioral Science Graduate Program depend to a large degree on simulations, team learning, discussion, and papers growing out of these experiences.  Therefore, credit by examination is not available.


Students must complete a Graduation Application (available from the Registrar) and a Program Approval Form (available from the program office) according to the deadlines given in the graduate section of this University Catalog under "Application for Graduation".   The Program Approval Form specifies the courses to be counted toward graduation, and insures that all students are Classified and Advanced to Candidacy.



Faculty usually schedule office hours immediately before classes.  The days and hours for each faculty member may change from one semester to another, but are posted on office doors.  Faculty are available during office hours for advising on all aspects of the academic program.  Career, housing, personal, and other types of advising are best pursued through special offices for these purposes listed elsewhere in the University Catalog.


Student Organizations

The Student Alumni Gerontology Association (SAGA) provides an opportunity for both current students and alumni of the Gerontology option to network and exchange information about the profession.


Master of Arts in Behavioral Science

Gerontology Option (31-34 units)

A.  Required Courses (19 units)

BEH 505.      Seminar:  Computer Applications in Behavioral Science (4)

BEH 507.      Seminar:  Research Design and Interpretation (3)

GRN 550.      Seminar: Theories of Gerontology (3)

GRN 552.      Seminar: Organizational Administration (3)

GRN 569.      Internship in Gerontology (3,3)


B.  Electives: Select three to four courses from the following with
no more than one 300- or 400-level courses (9-12 units):

GRN 555.      Seminar: Social Policy and the Economics of Aging (3)

GRN 558.      Seminar: Life Options and Retirement Planning (3)

GRN 563.      Seminar: Community Services for the Elderly (3)

GRN 565.      Seminar: Long-term Care for the Elderly (3)

GRN 567.      Death and Dying: Perspectives from the Behavioral Sciences (3)

BIO 386.       Human Aging (3)

REC 334.      Therapeutic Recreation and Gerontology (3)

SOC 529.      Seminar: Social Gerontology (3)

SOC 561.      Seminar: Aging: Minorities and Special Groups (3)

SOC 595.      Special Topics in Sociology: The Older Woman (3)

SOC 595.      Special Topics in Sociology: Life Cycle of Lesbians/Gays (3)


C.  Select one course from the following (0-3 units):

GRN 597.      Directed Reading in Gerontology (3)

GRN 599.      Thesis or Project in Gerontology (3) or

                      Comprehensive Examination (0)

NOTE:  Students selecting the exam option will need to complete 12 units
of electives selected from the above in consultation with the program coordinator.


Course Offerings

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term by a number in parentheses following the title.  For course availability, please see the list of tentative course offerings in the current Class Schedule.


Research Methods and Organizational Design

BEH 505   Seminar:  Computer Applications  (4).

The use of microcomputers in the behavioral sciences.  Special attention to qualitative analysis of internet resources and to quantitative analysis using spread sheets and statistical analysis software.  The impact of computer technology on culture and professional practice.  Four hours of seminar per week.

BEH 507   Seminar: Research Design and Interpretation  (3).

Consideration of research methods used in the behavioral sciences.  Elements of research design including problem formulation; sampling, data collection, instrument development; problems of reliability and validity; selection, calculation, and interpretation of appropriate descriptive and inferential statistics.  Three hours of seminar per week.



GRN 550  Seminar in Theories of Gerontology (3). 

Prerequisite: At least one of the following: SOC 355, PSY 305, or PSY 360.  Also, at least one of the following: SOC 316, PSY 352, or ANT 344. 

Functions, goals, and development of theory; discussion and critical examination of biological, psychological, and sociological theories of aging.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 552  Seminar: Organizational  Administration (3). 

Clarification of organizational goals, initiating fund raising, marketing, and the administration of organizations to provide needed community services.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 555  Seminar in Social Policy and Economics of Aging (3). 

Prerequisite: GRN 550. 

Overview of existing programs and funding resources emphasizing major legislation affecting older adults, e.g., social security, Older Americans Act, and MediCal.  Economic implications for individuals, communities and the nation.  Demands for goods and services and consumer patterns for the aging population.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 558  Seminar in Life Options and Retirement Planning (3). 

Study of techniques of advising individuals and groups about adjustments to retirement and sharing of information about options in later life including changing personal and social relationships, financial planning, housing, government benefits, pensions,  legal issues, e.g., wills, medical forms.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 563  Seminar in Community Services for the Elderly (3). 

Assessment of changing needs and special issues for communities.  Identification of community resources and their mobilization and organization.  Action strategies such as establishment of nonprofit corporations, lobbying, advisory councils, volunteers,  peer counseling, and development of professionals and new careers.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 565  Seminar in Long-term Care for the Elderly (3) S. 

Overview of programs and facilities available for aged and frail elderly population.  Special issues, present patterns, and future trends in this field are explored.  Assessment models for individuals and groups requiring special attention will be presented.  Three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 567  Death and Dying: Perspectives from the Behavioral Sciences (3) S. 

Personal and social attitudes toward death, reactions of the terminally ill, grief, the funeral, effects of war and holocaust, implications of life prolonging advances in technology from psychological, sociological and cross-cultural perspectives. 

GRN 569  Internship in Gerontology (3) FS. 

Prerequisites: GRN 550 and 6 additional units of graduate study. 

Students will be directed to appropriate agencies and centers to work as interns within their chosen area of specialization.  Regular meetings scheduled with a faculty internship supervisor to assess student progress.  Repeatable for credit up to six units.  One hour of seminar per week in addition to internship.

GRN 595  Seminar: Special Topics in Gerontology (1-3). 

Study of a current topic in Behavioral Science.  Repeatable for total of six units.  One to three hours of seminar per week.

GRN 597  Directed Readings  in Gerontology  (3) FS.  

In consultation with a faculty member, completion of readings to prepare for the comprehensive examination; or for orientation to a little known topic; or as background for writing a research, thesis, or project proposal.  CR/NC grading.  Repeatable for total of six units. 

GRN 598  Directed Research in  Gerontology  (3) FS. 

Prerequisites: BEH 507 and BEH 505. 

Conduct of pilot studies, development of research instruments, or similar independent research in preparation for the project or thesis, under the supervision of a faculty member in any area of Behavioral Science.  CR/NC grading.  Repeatable for total of six units.

GRN 599  Thesis or Project in Gerontology (1-3) FS.

Prerequisites: BEH 507 and nine additional units to be approved by the Program Coordinator.

In consultation with a faculty member, writing of a masters thesis or completion of a project in the Behavioral Sciences.  Choice of area requires prior consent of advisor.  Repeatable for credit up to six units.  CR/NC grading.

GRN 600 Graduate Continuation Course (0) FS.

Graduate students who have completed their course work but not their thesis, project, or comprehensive examination, or who have other requirements remaining for the completion of their degree, may maintain continuous attendance by enrolling in this course.  Signature of graduate program coordinator required.

Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled on a "demand" basis.  Students should consult the department office for information about the next schedule offering.

BEH 509   Applied Behavioral Science Research (3) S. 

Prerequisite: BEH 505, BEH 507 and 9 additional units of graduate work.

Application of research design, instrument development,  proposal writing, program planning, and statistics to formulating, completing , and reporting a study of a specified problem.  Four hours of seminar per week.