UMass Boston

Gerontology PhD

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Gain the advanced research skills you need to contribute to the knowledge base of gerontology.

UMass Boston's Gerontology PhD program has awarded more gerontology doctorates than any university in the world. Gerontology is a rapidly expanding field of study focused on aging processes and aging populations. Advanced work in gerontology is interdisciplinary, bridging theories, concepts, and research methods drawn from the social and behavioral sciences.

Our doctoral program prepares students for leadership roles as educators, researchers, planners, and policy makers. The curriculum gives graduates command of a broad body of specialized knowledge in aging and social policy and prepares them to design rigorous studies to expand that knowledge. The program’s approach gives special attention to the needs of low-income older adults, as well as issues of racial and cultural diversity. Students gain practical experience as researchers, policy analysts, and educators through service-learning experiences with faculty, research centers, and community partners.

In this program, you will:

  • Develop advanced research expertise in gerontology, including qualitative and quantitative research methods, data analysis, and theoretical frameworks, allowing you to conduct original research and contribute to the field's understanding of aging
  • Acquire a deep understanding of the social, psychological, biological, and economic aspects of aging, enabling you to critically analyze and address the complex challenges and opportunities faced by older adults and society as a whole
  • Cultivate advanced communication, leadership, and teaching skills, preparing you to disseminate your research findings, mentor emerging scholars, and contribute to the advancement of gerontological knowledge and practice

Start Your Application

Career Possibilities

Teach and conduct research at universities or colleges, sharing your expertise in gerontology and mentoring future scholars and professionals in the field. Analyze and evaluate aging-related policies and their impact on older adults, providing evidence-based recommendations to government agencies and advocacy groups. Or, work in public health agencies or organizations, developing and implementing public health initiatives that target older adults. These are just a few of the possibilities.

Become a(n):

  • University Professor
  • Research Scientist
  • Policy Analyst
  • Non-profit Director
  • Gerontological Consultant

Plan Your Education

How to Apply

Applicants must meet general graduate admission requirements in addition to the following program-specific requirements:

  • Statement of Purpose - Attach a three to four page essay/personal statement on your experiences and why you wish to enter our program.
  • Official Transcripts - Submit official transcripts from each college or university you attended, even if you were not awarded a degree.
  • You must demonstrate evidence of a bachelor's degree.
  • CV/Resume  - please submit your up-to-date CV/Resume
  • GRE Scores - GRE scores are not required to apply for the PhD program. If you wish to provide your official GRE Score Report, you may. You can use institutional code 3924 when you register for the exam.
  • Letters of Recommendation - Submit three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your academic abilities.
  • Application Fee

Deadlines & Cost

Deadlines: February 1 (for priority consideration for funding) and June 1 (final) for fall

Application Fee: The nonrefundable application fee is $75. UMass Boston alumni and current students that plan to complete degree requirements prior to graduate enrollment can submit the application without paying the application fee.

Program Cost Information: Bursar's website


Foundation Courses (15 Credits)

  • GERON GR 611 - Health and Physical Changes in Aging 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 621 - Social Aspects Aging 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 628 - Psychology of Aging 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 724 - Race & Culture 3 Credit(s)
  • PPOL-G 621  Microeconomics for Policy Analysis

Research Courses (18 Credits)

  • GERON GR 601 - Research Methods and Experimental Design 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 603L - Statistical Methods in the analysis of Social Problems I 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 604L - Statistical Methods in the Analysis of Social Problems II 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 726 - Current National Data Bases in Gerontological Policy Research 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 727 - Research Practicum in Gerontology 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 609L - Qualitative Methods and Field Research3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 701 - Advanced Statistical Methods in Gerontology 3 Credit(s)

Policy Courses (9 Credits)

  • GERON GR 623 - Issues in Aging Policy 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 760 - Policy Analysis Techniques 3 Credit(s)
  • GERON GR 761 - Advanced Policy Analysis in Aging 3 Credit(s)

Professional Development Seminar (3 Credits)

  • GERON GR 688 - Multidisciplinary Seminar in Aging 1 Credit(s) - complete three times

Electives (15 Credits)

Complete at least five additional GERON GR courses.

Dissertation Research (9 Credits)

  • GERON GR 899 - Dissertation Research 1-9 Credit(s)

Graduation Criteria

Complete 69 credits from 21 courses including five foundation courses, six research courses, three policy courses, one professional development seminar, five electives, and nine credits of dissertation research.

Doctoral candidacy: Completion of a paper examination.
Dissertation: Compose and defend a dissertation based on original research.
Empirical research paper: By the end of the fourth semester of study, students are expected to complete an empirical research paper, comparable to an article that would be published in a professional academic journal. The paper is based on the preparatory course work in research methods and statistical analysis undertaken during the first and second years of study. Completion and acceptance of the paper by two faculty reviewers by the end of the fourth term is a prerequisite to taking the qualifying paper examination.

En Route Master’s Degree: Students may, with the approval of the program director, apply to receive an MS degree en route to the PhD. To qualify, students must complete 30 credits and the empirical research paper.

Transfer coursework: Students who enter the program already holding an appropriate master’s degree may petition the Graduate Program Director for waiver of up to 12 credit hours of required or elective course work. Prior graduate courses will be considered for meeting elective requirements on the basis of their pertinence to the student’s course of studies in gerontology. All courses considered for waiver or transfer must have been completed with a grade of at least B. Consideration will be given only to courses completed within 7 years of enrollment. Acceptance of prior course work is subject to the approval of the graduate program director and the dean of graduate studies.

Statute of limitations: Eight years.


Graduate Program Director Jeffrey Stokes 
jeffrey.stokes [at]
(617) 287-7239

Program Manager Martin Hansen-Verma
martin.hansen [at]
(617) 287-7338

Gerontology Programs
gerontology [at]

elderly Black couple  consulting with a female Black gerontology worker


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