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The Area of Gerontology

In recent years there has been an increased interest in the older person and in the aging process. An important reason for this interest is the recent growth in the proportion of older people in the population of many countries, including Canada. A host of concerns has been raised by the changing age structure of the Canadian population, which can be addressed properly only by examining carefully the aging process and the circumstances of the older person - the field of study known as Gerontology.

Gerontology involves a number of disciplines. For example, Biologists investigate the changes at the molecular, cellular and organismal level that take place over time, with a view to possible modification. Gerontologists trained in fields such as Psychology, Sociology, Health Studies and Environmental Studies focus on other age-related changes in individual and population aging. To illustrate, psychologists examine the changes with age in psychological functions (perception, thinking, learning) whereas sociologists are interested in reciprocal relationships between the aging person and society. Similarly, those with a background in Environmental Studies direct their attention to the impact of the environment on aging.

The introduction of a multidisciplinary Gerontology program is intended to provide a focus to aging studies at Waterloo. The program of courses offered has two components: a Minor in Gerontology and a Diploma in Gerontology. The latter component may be of particular interest to part-time, mature students. In addition, graduate studies and research are carried out within the program.

The Minor and the Diploma represent multidisciplinary programs combining courses from a variety of departments such as Biology, Psychology, Sociology and Statistics. These programs are intended to enhance students' understanding of aging processes and to prepare students for careers in those professions which deal with the care of the elderly in other relevant professions. The programs provide professional development to those already working in these areas, and raise the awareness of the non-specialist for this important, emerging area of study and concern.


Minor in Gerontology

The Minor program is open to University of Waterloo students who wish to obtain some specialization in Gerontology.


Academic Requirements for the Minor

  1. Students must be in an Honours or four-year General program at the University of Waterloo.
  2. An overall minimum average of 67% in the ten academic courses.
  3. Successful completion of the following 10 courses.

Required Courses (three)

GERON 100/HLTH 150 Introduction to Gerontology
GERON 400/HLTH 400 Multidisciplinary Seminar on Aging
An approved course in statistics (a list of approved courses is available in the Undergraduate Office)

Restricted Electives (seven)

List A (four of the following)
GERON 210/HLTH 210/KIN 210 Growth, Development and Aging
GERON 217/HLTH 217/PSYCH 217 Aging and Basic Psychological Processes
GERON 218/HLTH 218/PSYCH 218 Aging, Dying and Death
GERON 255/SCI 255 The Biology of Aging
GERON 352/HLTH 352/KIN 352/SOC 352 Sociology of Aging

List B (three of the following)
ANTH 404 Human Development in a Cross-Cultural Perspective: Human Development, Aging and Death
CS 316 Introduction to Statistical Problem Solving by Computer
ECON 361 Cost-Benefit Analysis and Project Evaluation
GERON 220/HLTH 220 Health and the Family
GERON 245/HLTH 245 The Canadian Health Care System
GERON 401A/B Directed Studies in Special Topics
GERON 402 Epidemiology of Aging
HLTH 420/PLAN 432 Health, Environment and Planning
ISS 350D Adult Life Crises and Events
PHIL 226 Ethics and Life Sciences
PHYS 480 Radiation Biophysics
PLAN 431 Issues in Housing
PSYCH 236 Psychological Analysis of Human Sexuality
REC 361 Aging and Leisure
RS 271 Personality and Religion
SIPAR 378 Aging as a Spiritual Journey
SOC 415 Social Networks
SOC WK 240R Palliative Care
SOC WK 367R Social Work with the Elderly


Diploma in Gerontology

The Diploma program is available to those students who would like some training in Gerontology but are not interested in completing all the requirements of an undergraduate degree. It is also available to those students who have already completed an undergraduate degree but would like to obtain a better understanding of aging phenomena.


Diploma Admission Requirements

The following are considered minimum admission requirements. Students will be considered on an individual basis to determine admissibility to the program.

  1. Post-Secondary degree or diploma, or
    Secondary School diploma and minimum 2 years work experience in a relevant health/social sciences environment within the past 5 years.
  2. Grade 12 Biology or equivalent or HLTH 101, within the past 5 years.

Transfer Credits

A maximum of 2.5 transfer credits (5 term courses) can be granted to students who have taken courses at the University of Waterloo before enrolment in the Diploma. A maximum of 1.5 transfer credits (3 term courses) can be granted to students who have taken courses from other institutions.


Academic Requirements for the Diploma

  1. An overall average of 67% in the ten academic courses.
  2. A work placement may be necessary depending on your experience.
  3. A maximum of 5 years to successfully complete the program from the time the student first enters the program. This limit is adjusted downwards on a pro-rated basis for transfer students according to the number of transfer credits granted at admission.
  4. Successful completion of ten courses.


Course Requirements

See Course Requirements for the Minor in Gerontology

Further Information

For more information about the minor or diploma in Gerontology, please contact:
Department of Health Studies and Gerontology
Burt Matthews Hall
University of Waterloo
Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
(519) 885-1211, ext. 5706

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