Apply Now

New Policy on Tuition Remission

FAQ Tuition Remission for Graduate Students

FAQ Tuition Remission for SOM

UAB Graduate School on Facebook


View PDF version of the Gerontology catalog description

Certification Program


Dr. Patricia L. Sawyer


(205) 934-9261


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web site:


Allman, Richard M.; Professor (Medicine); Director, Birmingham/Atlanta VA Geriatric, Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC); Mobility Impairment and Its Complications; Geriatric Care Quality Improvement

Ball, Karlene; Professor (Psychology); Clinical Science/Patient-Oriented Research; Health Services Research; Mobility Impairment and Its Complications

Rothrock, Angela G.; Assistant Professor (Division of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine)

Drentea, Patricia; Associate Professor (Sociology); Socioeconomic Aspects of Aging, Health and Disability, and Work and Family, Research Methods

Perkins Waters, Martinique; Assistant Professor (Health Behavior); Caregiving, Quality of Life Indicators.

Ghanta, Vithal K.; Professor (Biology); Tumor Immunology, Aging and Immune System

Peel, Claire; Professor (Physical Therapy); Fall Prevention, Exercise as an Intervention to Enhance Mobility

Sawyer, Patricia L.; Associate Professor (Social and Behavioral Science Section); Gerontology, Medical Sociology, Minority Aging

Shewchuk, Richard M.; Professor (Health Services Administration); Health and Long-Term Care Issues in Aging

G. Bradley, Virginia; Associate Professor (Social and Behavioral Science Section); Cognition and Mobility, Dementia Caregiving, Loss of Capacity in Alzheimer's Disease

Program Information

The Gerontology Education Program was established in 1980 through the cooperative efforts of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences and the Center for Aging. Since that time, the program has expanded considerably and offers diverse academic opportunities. Students have access to a number of faculty members from multiple disciplines who bring research and academic expertise to the study of aging and the aged.

The Gerontology Education Program offers multidisciplinary academic courses in gerontology leading to a graduate certificate. The study of gerontology at these levels is designed to provide people educated in various disciplines with the background needed to work in programs related to aging and the aged. The main goals are to provide students with a thorough background in existing theory and research in gerontology, and a supplement to their existing backgrounds and professional disciplines. We have designed the program to prepare students for leadership roles in this field of growing importance for both the private and public sectors. Our program's curriculum integrates research, theory, and practice. Its multidisciplinary approach reflects the urban mission of UAB.

The program office is located at the UAB Center for Aging. This academic program is administered by the Director of the Gerontology Education Program, who also serves as Chair of the Guidance Committee on Graduate and Undergraduate Education in Gerontology. This committee is made up of representatives of academic departments and schools throughout the UAB campus active in the study of aging and the aged. The multidisciplinary gerontology program is offered to all UAB students in good standing with the sponsorship and support of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the School of Health Related Professions, and the Center for Aging.

Student Admissions and Advisement

Although general advisement is handled through UAB student advising and parent departments, student advisement in gerontology is handled formally by the Director of the Gerontology Education Program. The director facilitates student advisement with other members of the Committee on Graduate and Undergraduate Education in Gerontology.

A graduate specialty is offered to students who want a special emphasis in gerontology or geriatrics. The major objective of this specialization is to provide a strong academic background for professional careers in academic and aging-related settings. There are two avenues for undertaking the graduate gerontology certificate requirements. Students in good standing in the graduate school can specialize in gerontology through their primary department. Letters of application also are accepted from students who have already completed requirements for an advanced or professional degree.

Students not currently enrolled in a graduate program at UAB may petition the university for nondegree admission status. Once accepted, the student can undertake a course of study to receive a graduate certificate upon completion of the required sequence of classes.

A careful review of proposed curriculum is recommended before the student enrolls for gerontology study. This will give students an opportunity to receive initial advisement while reviewing available study plans and course schedules.


Students must complete at least 15 credit hours of graduate-level work in gerontology or geriatrics, achieving a grade of B or better in each course. The curriculum consists of a required multidisciplinary course offered through the graduate school (GRD 600), three gerontology electives chosen from a roster of courses approved by the Committee on Graduate and Undergraduate Education in Gerontology, and a required research project or a relevant internship. To ensure a multidisciplinary perspective, courses must represent at least two departments.

Additional Information

For detailed information, contact Dr. Patricia L. Sawyer, Director, UAB Gerontology Education Program, Center for Aging, Room 201-E1, 933 19th Street South, Birmingham, AL 35294-2041.

Telephone 205-934-9261

Fax 205-934-7354

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Course Descriptions

Unless otherwise noted, all courses are for 3 semester hours of credit. Course numbers preceded with an asterisk indicate courses that can be repeated for credit, with stated stipulations.

Gerontology (GER)

Required Course

GRD 600. Core Issues in Aging. A multidisciplinary approach will be used to consider dimensions of the aging process. This course explores individual and societal meanings of aging and old age through the study of the biological, psychological, and sociological changes accompanying aging as well as current issues and controversies in the study of aging. 3 hours.


NUR 533. Living with Loss Across the Life Span. Involves world religion, spiritually broad journals, presentations, activity with belief systems other than the students’, church services, weddings, funerals, etc. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 3 hours.

NUR 499/534. Spirituality in Health Care Across the Life Span. The course covers developmental loss, social life style, affects on family, divorce, retirement, etc. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 3 hours.

540. Biology of Aging. Current understanding of aging, measuring aging changes, theories of aging, and aging changes in various human systems. Prerequisite: BY 101 or permission of instructor. Additional requirements for graduate credit: discretion of instructor. 3 hours.

590. Seminar in Gerontological Substantive Areas. Individually designed research agendas for students wishing to conduct semi-independent research or guided reading in social gerontology. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 1-3 hours.

595. Independent Study in Long-Term Care. Individually designed research agendas for students wishing to conduct semi-independent research or guided reading in long-term care. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 1-3 hours.

GRD 601. Research Methods in Gerontology. Basic research designs and choosing appropriate research designs. Current research methodology including data management and analyses used in studies of health and aging are covered through a series of seminars and meetings. 3 hours.

GRD 602. The Health Care of Older Adults. The focus of this course is on medical and health issues related to older adults.  Physical and psychological aspects of normal aging will be discussed.  Principles of geriatric medicine are covered, including clinical presentation and functional assessment of older adults as well as age-related diseases and geriatric syndromes. 3 hours.

604. Health Literacy and Aging. This course will define the concepts of health literacy and the relationship of health literacy to competent provision of health care.  Individual and institutional barriers to health literacy will be discussed in addition to methods to screen and improve health literacy of older adults. 1 hour. 

605. Cultural Competency and Aging. This course will provide an interdisciplinary overview of factors that may impact culturally competent care for older adults.  The impact of language, literacy, and socioeconomic status (SES) will be discussed in the context of cultural competence.  Barriers to providing culturally competent health care will be addressed. 1 hour. 

606. Ethics and Aging. This course will provide an overview of ethical dimensions in later life. Issues related to ethical decision making in the health professions will be addressed, including decision making protocols, team functioning, and issues related to end-of-life care.  Social and institutional ethics involving older adults will also be discussed. 1 hour.

611. Managed Care. Explores the organization and management of alternative health care delivery systems. Emphasis is placed on understanding the position these new organizational forms have in the U.S. health care system. The focus of the course is on organizations providing managed, ambulatory, and long-term care. 3 hours. 1 hour.

624. Multidisciplinary Research in Aging Colloquium. Discussion of current research in selected aspects of aging-related studies. Speakers are chosen to reflect the variety of scientific disciplines conducting inquiry on the theme. 3 hours.

638 & 738. Geriatrics and Gerontology Interdisciplinary Core Curriculum. The UAB Geriatrics Education Center coordinates the curriculum, consisting of lectures on the multidisciplinary treatment of health and aging issues. 3 hours.

643. Long-Term Care Administration. Seminar analysis of effect of chronic conditions and aging on delivery of health services; nursing homes and alternatives, mental health facilities and agencies; rehabilitation facilities and services. Field trips and individual research projects. 3 hours.

655. Minority Aging. Cross-racial and -ethnic exploration on national level of some special problems of minority aged groups, such as Latinos, Blacks, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Pacific Asians, and American Indians. Discussions focus on family, church, health care, housing, adult education, retirement, income, and recreation. 3 hours.

665. Geriatric Rehabilitation for the Health Professional. Rehabilitation of the elderly person from the perspective of age-related changes, the impact of selected functional problems, psychosocial aspects of decreasing function, personal and environmental adaptations, and the continuing autonomy of the individual. 3 hours.

HCO 680. Aging Policy. Providing for the physical and economic well-being of the aging population is a continual challenge facing society. This course will discuss factors that shape public policy affecting the elderly in the U. S. and other developed countries. Basic statistics or the equivalent is a prerequisite for this course.

OT 688. The Occupation of Caregiving: Caring for Older Adults. Review social trends, programmatic initiatives, current research and policy implications. Students will gain a broad knowledge of the interplay between disease characteristics and needs for care. Permission of instructor. 2 hours.

691, 791. Seminar in Gerontological Substantive Areas. Individually designed research agendas for students wishing to conduct semi-independent research or guided reading in social gerontology. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. 1-3 hours.

HCO 720. Health Insurance and Managed Care. Insurance as mechanism for dealing with consequences of an uncertain world. Health insurance and its consequences as significant reasons health care markets differ from others. Workings of insurance markets and current policy issues. Demand for health insurance, underwriting, rate making, moral hazard and adverse selection, HMOs and PPOs, employer health benefits and self insurance, Medicare and Medicaid, long-term care insurance and catastrophic coverage. Prerequisite: HCO 601 or equivalent. 3 hours.

734. International Medical Sociology. Cross-cultural, comparative analysis of health and health care delivery systems in both industrialized and developing countries.

755. Race and Ethnic Relations. Income inequality, school and residential segregation, intermarriage and interracial crime. 3 hours.

759. Social Gerontology. Consideration of some of the structural and behavioral implications of older adulthood in American society. Included will be such topics as the relationship of the aged to political, economic, educational, medical, religious, and other structures in society. 3 hours.

760. Sociology of Death and Dying. Sociological, social psychological and existential perspectives on death and dying; recent trends in definition, distribution, and practices surrounding death and dying. 3 hours.

769. Sociology of the Life Cycle. Consideration of sociological orientations to the life course. 3 hours.

777. Demography of Health and Aging. Demographic processes such as mortality, morbidity, disability, migration, and fertility and how each influences the number and proportion of the elderly, how these processes shape the age-sex structure of our population, and the demographic characteristics of older people.

779. Medical Demography. An examination of clinical, epidemiological, and sociological designs to investigate the effects of morbidity, disability, and mortality processes on human populations. 3 hours.

780. Medical Sociology. Theory and research in medical sociology; systematic overview of relevant literature. 3 hours.

781. Sociology of Health. Subjective experience of illness; predictions of health behavior; social networks and health.

785. Psychology of Aging. Age differences in perception, memory, intelligence, personality, adjustment, and psychopathology. 3 hours.

788. Social Medicine. Socioenvironmental factors in etiology of disease; social movements and health policy; medical ethics and broad ethical issues; place of societal science in medical care. 3 hours.

796. Research Seminar Health and Aging. Organized around a methods theme with lectures focusing on conducting social research, gaining access to research settings and getting started, writing grant applications, presenting papers at professional meetings, and thesis and dissertation proposal writing. Half of each class consists of lectures on developing research agendas. The other half of each class entails student presentation of developing research activities. 3 hours.