Gerontology FAQs

How many students are accepted into the program each year?

The number of admitted students depends on the match with faculty that will serve as Major Professors for each student as well as available funding (e.g., assistantships). Therefore, this number can be variable each year and our cohorts are growing. In general, we anticipate up to 5-7 students for the incoming year.

How do I determine a home department and Major Professor?

Most student applicants start by reviewing the specific research interests of professors in the department they think would be the best home department fit for them. Many of our faculty associates listed on our website directory are already approved to be Major Professors for Gerontology students. Other faculty, who do not have this designation, could serve as co-majors. Thus, our interdepartmental program is applicable to all departments across campus.

How does the interdisciplinary/interdepartmental system work?

The supplemental application form asks students to identify both a desired home department and potential Major Professors. Our program prioritizes the Major Professor/home department matching process during admission. Acceptance into the interdepartmental Gerontology Program is contingent upon commitment from both a Major Professor and a home department. This differs from other programs in which students may rotate through faculty labs and then identify a Major Professor after admission and time in the program. For Gerontology students we find it helpful in terms of progress toward degree as well as funding to secure this match before students come campus. Chapter 4 of the ISU Graduate Student Handbook provides more information about interdepartmental programs, like Gerontology.

How are graduate students funded?

Typically, Gerontology graduate majors are funded during their first year through joint support of the Graduate College as well as their home department or Major Professor. Subsequent years of funding are determined by the student, the Major Professor, and the home department. The Gerontology Program works with students, home departments, and Major Professors to identify funding opportunities and options. Current students have been funded in their second year and beyond as research and teaching assistants or other avenues (e.g., National Institutes of Health funded fellowship; Graduate College interdisciplinary writing consultants). There are also other scholarship opportunities available through the university. Masters students working 20 hour assistantships receive half of their tuition covered and doctoral students working 20 hour assistantships have full tuition covered. Students on assistantships are eligible for health insurance. More information about assistantships and student benefits can be found in Chapter 3 of the ISU Graduate Student Handbook.

How many students in the program are international students?

This number varies with each cohort, but there are no specific ratios that determine the proportion of international to domestic students. You can review our current student profiles to find out more about our students and their backgrounds.

Are there any extra requirements for international applicants?

Our program does not have any specific requirements for international students; however, the university does. You can find out more about the University admission requirements by visiting the International Admissions page.

Can I also get a minor?

Gerontology major students cannot minor in Gerontology; however, we do encourage our Gerontology Program students to consider pursuing another minor to complement their Gerontology degree. The minor can be from a home department or other Iowa State department. Some of the common minors our students seek include Statistics, Political Science, and Human Development and Family Studies. We also recommend considering some of the certificate programs that are offered. For more information about minors and certificates, review the ISU Graduate Student Handbook.

Do students get an office?

Office space is provided by the Gerontology Program or the home department depending on student need.

What types of classes does the program offer?

Students work with their Major Professor and Program of Study Committee to develop a program of courses and experiences to meet his/her professional development needs. A few core courses in Gerontology are required of all students (e.g., Theories of Aging, Foundations in Aging, Biological Principles of Aging). Gerontology majors can take courses that are offered both on campus and online covering a variety of topics (e.g., aging and the family, adult development, gerontechnology, cognitive health). Many courses originate from ISU and others in conjunction with Great Plains (GPIDEA).

Are there other student support services?

Iowa State University offers a wide variety of support services to students (listed and linked below). In addition, the Gerontology Program has a weekly learning community meeting called GeronExchange for first-year students during the fall semester. All cohorts join in at biweekly or monthly to promote community and professional development among program students.