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Interdisciplinary MS in Dementia and Aging Studies

Master of Science in Dementia and Aging Studies - Online


Among online gerontology programs in the United States, our MSDA program is ranked number 8 by Best Value Schools, number 15 by Online Masters, and number 23 by Intelligent.

Graduates of the MSDA program will make an immediate impact in their profession or be able to pursue further graduate studies leading toward research-related careers. Most will pursue advanced management and leadership opportunities in professional settings related to long-term care, hospices and hospitals, while others will develop new and better approaches to serving older adults and persons with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD).

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. See alumni testimonials for further information.

  • 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 valuable to anyone who currently works or wants to work with older adults, or conduct research on dementia and aging. Graduates can manage various communities, programs, agencies and organizations to serve this growing population, or conduct research on dementia and aging. According to the U.S. Census, the number of older adults 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 and other opportunities available for people to serve and work with older adults, and a need for more scholarly research about aging process and older adults' experiences.

    The dementia and aging studies graduate program offers three concentrations that emphasize different course work and provide distinct career outcomes.

    • The dementia and long-term care concentration combines long-term care and sociology courses to provide a social model of care approach to students aiming to work in extended living environments upon graduation.
    • The practitioner concentration offers a wider variety of elective courses related to dementia and aging issues for students interested in dementia-related careers, like health educators or patient advocates.
    • The research concentration focuses on advanced research knowledge to accompany the cutting-edge information offered in the core dementia and aging courses, preparing students for doctoral programs.
    • (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.

  • 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.

    For information regarding admission requirements and submission instructions, please visit:

    *International applicants can view specific deadlines and requirements at:

  • The mission of the M.S. in dementia and aging studies program is to educate from a global, interdisciplinary and human rights perspective, in order to create compassion and understanding for persons with dementia and for elders. The department accomplishes this mission by preparing students for dementia- and aging-related careers in teaching, advocacy, research and leadership, so as to empower caregivers and foster autonomy for persons with dementia and for elders.

  • "I can very easily say that: I knew immediately upon starting my first semester in the MSDA Program that I had chosen the right school if I was going to expand my knowledge, and, in turn, my career, working extensively with our aging populations. Each class enveloped an abundance of scholarly literature, videos, interviews, and stories from real people that have lived such full lives and have had to cope with societal devaluation of older adults, cultural stigmas of aging that include gender and glorifying youth, and the vast, varying experiences of dementia. These resources were made clear and easy to follow by the wonderful professors that you can feel truly enjoy what they do and what they teach. I am glad to have attended Texas State University and am beyond satisfied with the education I received here." - Meredith Prendys, MSDA '19

    "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

    "The MSDA program gives you a new way of looking at aging.  In starting my first course, 'Introduction to Dementia' I expected with my years of experience, it would be review.  After the first week's coursework, I realized how wrong I was!  The sociological perspective was eye-opening for me, and the initial ideas of dementia citizenship and person-centered care have changed every interaction I have had with persons living with dementia since I began my studies. 

    Each course was well-designed, relevant to the field of aging services, and an enjoyable yet challenging learning experience.  Many students in the program have years in the field, and you learn both from your professor and the experiences of your classmates through forums and group work.  The faculty is very accessible, willing to provide feedback, even meeting with you to discuss your career goals and options.

    I know from personal experience job searching that this program is very highly regarded, and I've had many ask me about the degree.  What made it perfect for me is the way you can tailor it to your interests.  I chose the "Practitioner Track"  which allowed me to choose from Long Term Care courses as well as courses in Communication Disorders, End of Life care, and understanding the unique challenges of aging for minorities.

    I am glad I found this program and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in aging theories, dementia, or different perspectives on the aging experience. " Heather Macchietto, MSDA '19

    “I chose the Long Term Care track of the Master of Science in Dementia and Aging Studies (MSDA) program to gain a better understanding of the population I will advocate for as an administrator.  The social care model approaches are informative for both current and future licensed nursing facility administrators. The knowledge gained has shifted my focus to find a balance between maintaining safe environments and supporting people through preservation of identity and respect of citizenship. Long term care facility administrators are in a unique position to lead an interdisciplinary team (IDT) charged with the responsibility of providing care. The interdisciplinary degree resulting from the partnership between MSDA and Long Term Care Administration courses prepares administrators to lead their IDT with compassion for elderhood.” -Brandi Bertrand, MSDA ’20

    “The classes were really interesting and so convenient online. This allowed me to juggle work and school much easier.” – Linda Sweeney, MSDA ’20

    "What I most enjoyed learning from the MSDA program were the implications of various dementias, specifically Alzheimer's Disease, on the self and the stigma associated with the disease. I also enjoyed learning about the many problems our current institutionalized medical model of care offers those with neurodegenerative diseases and how a culture change and person-centered approach to care must be our focus in the immediate future in order to improve quality of life for those living with the disease as well as their caregivers and families. I am an active volunteer with local nursing homes and the Alzheimer’s Association and know my future will always consist of advocating, volunteering, or visiting with elders and persons with dementia as well as their families. This degree will help me educate others and improve my interactions with those with dementia." -Tess Jones, MSDA '20

    "The most important knowledge received specifically from the MSDA program at Texas State is the change in discourse and framing. The pivotal shift changes the conversation from a disease to persons living with a disease. The paradigm shift allows healthcare professionals to become advocates for a vulnerable population stand against human rights violations for persons living with dementia. The education gained in the MSDA program trains future professionals to understand the social structure in society for persons living with dementia from a systems perspective. This issue and distinction are important for professionals working with PLWD to correctly define, address, and manage the impact of living with dementia. It is necessary to recognize the paradigm used for persons living with dementia is defined by the institutionalized system and can be cultivated by consciously challenging the status quo to the benefit of the residents. It is important that this generation of professionals, not only does not pass down, but actively interrupts, the unskillful perspectives of the industry.  The MSDA program enlightens the students empowers them so their life's work makes a difference in the history of healthcare." - Mona Lisa Rudd, MSDA '20

    This journey has been the most meaningful of my life. It has been truly inspirational and overwhelmingly positive. My passion has been reignited and intensified over and over. I was really empowered to pursue my own specific and individual interests while tying them into a truly comprehensive education. I found that the discussions were a fantastic way to communicate and solidify what I was learning and to glean alternate perspectives from my classmates, and I have formed some relationships with classmates that have been really wonderful. The program instilled within me both an awareness of the obstacles in the way of change, and the tools to overcome those obstacles. Most importantly, it has given me the ability to make these necessary changes. - Casey Frank, MSDA ‘21

Contact Us!

Lindy Warner

Graduate Programs Specialist
Lindy Warner
UAC, Room 449B

Kyong Hee Chee

MSDA Program Coordinator
Dr. Kyong Hee Chee
UAC, Room 468