Interdisciplinary MS with a Major in Dementia and Aging Studies
MS with a Major in Dementia and Aging Studies (33-36 hours; online)
The MSDA is a 33-36 hour, online, interdisciplinary degree (with courses from Sociology, Long Term Care, and Communication Disorders) and housed in the sociology department. Successfully completing the MSDA will be useful for anyone who currently works or wants to work with the aged community, or conduct research on dementia and aging. Graduates can manage various communities, programs, agencies and organizations for the growing aging population, or conduct research on dementia, gerontology, and aging. According to the U.S. Census, the number of elderly has surpassed the number of teenagers for the first time ever in the United States. Because of this significant demographic change, there are more jobs available for people to help and work with senior citizens, and a need for more scholarly research about aging and the aged.
Three Tracks in MSDA
Successfully completing the MSDA will be useful for anyone who currently works or wants to work with the aged community, or conduct research on dementia and aging. This innovative program will produce graduates who can manage various communities, programs, agencies and organizations for the growing aging population, or conduct research on dementia, gerontology, and aging. According to the U.S. Census, the number of elderly has surpassed the number of teenagers for the first time ever in the United States. Because of this significant demographic change, there are more jobs available for people to help and work with elders, and a need for more scholarly research about aging and the aged. The MSDA program has three tracks: (1) Dementia and Long-Term Care; (2) Practitioner; and (3) Research. Each track offers different pathways for students upon graduation. Each targets a specific student audience and is designed to advance career and professional aspirations.
(1) The Dementia and Long-Term Care Track is designed for students whose professional goals correspond with the long term care certificate, but who also want cutting-edge knowledge about dementia and a master’s degree to supplement the certificate. A student in this track may be interested in certification as a nursing home administrator. Dementia and Long-Term Care allies the Long-Term Care certificate with core coursework from the Department of Sociology to provide a social model of care approach to students who want to work in extended living environments when they graduate.
(2) The Practitioner Track contains a curricular offering for students whose interests are in careers related to dementia and prefer a wider variety of elective courses related to dementia and aging issues, rather than long-term care. A student in this track may be interested in roles such as health educator, or patient advocate. Students with undergraduate degrees in helping and health professions (social work and occupational therapy) may also pursue this track in order to expand skill sets and employment opportunities. The Practitioner track offers an in-depth education involving coursework from all participating departments and allowing students to work in any facility or organization whose concern is the health and well-being of the individuals affected by dementia.
(3) The Research Track focuses on research skills and dementia-related courses and is the track that students who want to pursue an academic doctorate in gerontology or aging should elect. It will provide advanced research knowledge to accompany the cutting-edge information offered in the core dementia and aging courses. The Research track offers coursework that will prepare students for doctoral programs in Gerontology, Sociology, Dementia Studies, or related fields.
Applicants for the MS in Dementia and Aging Studies program: Course prerequisites for M.S. in Dementia and Aging students include 6 hours of undergraduate sociology courses, or other social science courses, related to aging or gerontology; 2 years of documented experience in the field of gerontology may be substituted for 3 or 6 hours of social science prerequisites. These prerequisites may have been earned at other universities and may be taken prior to entering or in the first semester of the graduate program.
Our alumni are working in several aging and dementia occupations, including long term care administrators, health policy analysts, investigators at Adult Protective Services, and executive directors of assisted living facilities.
"I enjoyed the education I attained throughout the MSDA program. The professors were all very helpful and encouraging. They are very passionate about the studies of aging and gerontology. I could not have asked for a better learning experience! I am currently working as a nursing home administrator. With my master’s degree, I will eventually pursue work with the Alzheimer's Association." -Piaoludy Siriboury-Ortiz, MSDA '19
“Having a full understanding and perspective of the barriers (i.e. cultural barriers, discrimination, etc.) that older individuals face throughout their life course, increases the likelihood that the needs can be accommodated. Among many things, the MSDA presents views on ageism, the cultural expectations/perspectives that elders have on aging, how to communicate with elders, and end of life care. The most incredible thing about the MSDA program is the push to counter the outdated medical model that is presented and the evolving alternative approaches to care that help elders in late life. Ultimately, the foundation of the MSDA program truly equips leaders within the long-term care field with resources that will not only impact the delivery of care within facilities, but recognition of the resources that the care team needs.” –Marcus Mercer, MSDA ‘17, Director of the Ranch at the Marbridge Foundation
"What I loved about the program the most is that it is multidisciplinary. Because of the vast knowledge gained through the MSDA classes, we are able to apply our studies into virtually any field since dementia care is the way of the future. I really value the connections I’ve made along the way and plan to stay in touch professionally and personally with some of my peers. A month prior to graduation I was able to land a job with a company I have been passionately following for many years! Remedy Partners is a BPCI convener that builds and organizes preferred post-acute in conjunction with hospitals and hospitalist groups to improve patient care while reducing Medicare costs. The experience gained through the MSDA program has helped me relate to our partners at a local level thus being successful in what we do." -Mariel Baluja, MSDA '19
“This MSDA program provides great material to help a student understand the aging process and provides an insight on what can occur in the mind of an elderly individual. The material provided by each professor is well organized and has a significant purpose, which makes it easier for the information to be remembered. My professors are individuals who truly care about this subject and they always provide personal experiences to help their students understand it clearer. During the program, I felt the support from the faculty and it was very comforting.” -Elizabeth Cantu, MSDA ‘17